Wycombe’s “unfit for purpose” car parking machines look set to be replaced amid an “unprecedented” spate of cash thefts, that has seen costs for repairs spiral.

Councillors agreed to start looking for replacement machines for all Wycombe District Council-owned car parks because the current payment stations are “prone to failure”.

Earlier this month, the Bucks Free Press revealed how thieves caused £10,000-worth of damage to a parking payment machine in Riley Road, Marlow, in a bid to steal just £2.80.

It came just days after the Bucks Free Press revealed more than £100,000 of taxpayers’ cash had been spent on repairing vandalised parking machines in Wycombe – prompting calls for a complete overhaul of the payment system.

A council report to cabinet on November 12 said new equipment in the district’s car parks would improve the customer’s experience and increase revenue for the council.

Councillors agreed that the “out of date” machines needed to be replaced.

This week, Wycombe District Council has announced it plans to help drivers save money by agreeing to absorb the 20p convenience fee for using RingGO in their car parks – a service that enables visitors to pay for parking using their mobile phone.

Cllr Julia Adey, cabinet member for environment, said: “We have taken this decision to help residents visiting our high streets and malls, especially over the Christmas shopping season.

“As residents will know, we have suffered an unprecedented run of thefts and vandalism to our car parking machines. The amount of money the vandals have stolen has been tiny compared to the huge cost of replacing or repairing the machines.

“We’re currently replacing damaged machines with cash-free machines, while our officers investigate longer-term solutions. We’ll carry out an impact assessment before deciding.”

Motorists can also make extra savings by unticking the option for a reminder or a receipt SMS text, services that are charged for.

There will be free parking days in Marlow on December 1, 8 and 15, in Princes Risborough on December 1, 8, 15 and 22, in Bourne End on December 7 and 8 and in High Wycombe on December 1.