MAJOR changes are afoot for the way shoppers and visitors pay for their parking in Test Valley.

The borough council is proposing to replace all of it cash only and display ticket machines with ones that accept debit and credit cards and smartphone payments as well as coins.

A recommendation has been put forward to the authority’s cabinet on June 12, and if approved it will then be considered at full council at the end of June.

It is hoped that all of the car parking machines will be replaced in October, if proposal is given the green light by councillors.

Planning portfolio holder, Councillor Nick Adams-King, said: “This major change will make it easier for people to visit our town centres and shop locally.

“The ability to pay by credit and debit card or other contactless methods is now part of people’s everyday lives. Cash transactions in general have been in decline over the past few years and customers now expect to be able to pay for services via non-cash methods. There are now so few occasions when we need to carry cash and therefore having coin-only pay and display is becoming an increasing hindrance for shoppers. I hope that my fellow cabinet members will back this recommendation to full council.”

The move comes in light of talks between the council and Andover Business Improvement District (BID), which has promoted the modernisation of car parking payment options as a benefit to the town centre.

BID chairman Kevin Paterson said: “This will be of real benefit to the town and we are delighted to be associated with this key initiative. We are really pleased that the council has taken heed and is looking to replace the payment machines in all of its car parks.

“So many people nowadays rely on their credit cards and smartphones to make payments and thus rarely carry cash. Coin payment machines can therefore prove a barrier to shoppers visiting the town, so this will be a really positive step forward to help encourage more people to come to Andover.”

Ringo will also continue to be offered in all council car parks. The two machines in the Chantry Centre which enable people to clock in and then pay on exit using a debit or credit card will also remain in place.