The rollout of pay-by-phone parking in the city has been compared to the Horizon scandal by a former police officer launching a legal challenge.

Brighton and Hove City Council has scrapped parking machines in a £220k cost-cutting exercise - but ex-officer Stuart Bower claims it discriminates against elderly people who don't have access to mobile phones.

"Can it be lawful for a bureaucratic organisation to require people to carry mobile phones with them at all times just to enable them to access goods, services or facilities?," asked Stuart.

The Argus: Stuart Bower outside The Argus's offices in Hollingbury in 2018Stuart Bower outside The Argus's offices in Hollingbury in 2018

He has applied for a judicial review at the Royal Courts of Justice which will decide whether Brighton and Hove City Council could be discriminating against people with the new restrictions.

Stuart, who lives in Shoreham, said: "My son who lives in Worthing did try to use this system in Brighton. He has a masters degree in computer technology, yet he still took three attempts to pay for parking.

"If it takes him three attempts to pay for parking, what chance does an old age pensioner have?"

The Argus: Drivers now have to use the pay by phone appDrivers now have to use the pay by phone app (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

Brighton's parking machines were removed last year - and their removal has proved controversial among critics who say it could drive elderly people familiar with coin-in-the-slot payment methods away from the city.

A council spokesman told The Argus at the time that only 2 per cent of payments were made using cash.

Stuart added: "It seems to me that the council is doing everything in its power to keep visitors away.

"The Horizon scandal raises the question. At what point do we allow computers to take total control of our lives as opposed to merely assisting with our lives?"

The Argus: Parking machines no longer accept paymentsParking machines no longer accept payments (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

Motorists parking on streets in Brighton now have to use the Pay By Phone app on their smartphone or call a dedicated telephone number.

This is not the first time Stuart has taken on a parking challenge. In 2018 he called for a judicial review of Brighton and Hove's soft touch parking restrictions.

He compared the council to a dictatorship which cracked down on commuters parking for the day.

Stuart said at the time: "His legal challenge also claims that by providing permits to residents, the council is giving special privileges to certain people on the city’s road."

Brighton and Hove City Council was approached for comment.