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Ticket machine set for a reprieve

PUBLISHED: 16:46 05 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:40 13 July 2010

A tiny ticket machine in north Norfolk could be saved from the scrap heap after becoming an unexpected tourist attraction.

The three-foot machine at the Chequers car park in Sheringham grabbed national headlines last month when drivers expressed their astonishment at having to get on their hands and knees to pay for their tickets.

A tiny ticket machine in north Norfolk could be saved from the scrapheap after becoming an unexpected tourist attraction.

The 3ft machine at the Chequers car park in Sheringham grabbed national headlines last month when drivers expressed their astonishment at having to get on their hands and knees to pay for their tickets.

This week, North Norfolk District Council agreed to replace 22 of the area's 44 pay and display machines with new chip and pin ones to help cut down on vandalism and increase the amount of money raised by them.

But councillors at the cabinet meeting insisted the mini machine - which has a coin slot just 18in from the ground and was intended to be wheelchair friendly - needed to stay because it had become a celebrity in the town.

Peter Moore, portfolio holder for resources, said: "It's one of the machines we are going to replace. I don't think we should get rid of this machine. It's become an icon. I think it needs pride of place somewhere."

Cabinet members will talk to council officers to find out whether the machine, which had been quietly doing its job for five years before being catapulted to stardom, can be kept alongside the replacement.

Penny Bevan Jones, district councillor for Sheringham, said: "It's already becoming a national tourist attraction. People are coming to Sheringham just to look at this strange beast. Why not keep it?"

Mayor Noel Gant said the machine had become a talking point in the coastal town and had to stay.

He said: "My policy is anything that promotes Sheringham is good. If that machine is going to promote Sheringham and bring people into Sheringham, then leave it exactly where it is."

Chequers car park is one of a number of sites in Sheringham, Cromer, Mundesley, Wells and Holt set to get new machines and better lighting after cabinet members agreed to spend £135,000 on the scheme.

A report said the current machines needed replacing because of poor security and anti-theft measures, the cost of regular repair and maintenance and limited storage space for coins.

Thefts from 14 machines took place between September and October last year, from car parks at Cromer, East Runton, Happisburgh, Holt, Mundesley, Overstrand, Sheringham, Stalham and Wells.

The budget could not replace all 44 machines in 30 car parks so it was decided to concentrate on the well-used ones mainly in the seaside towns. Half the new 22 would have mains power, half solar, and all will accept credit or debit card payments.


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