Disgruntled drivers argue they should not be left out of pocket by poorly signposted parking conditions which have been introduced at a popular car park in Frodsham.
UKCPS took over the management of the privately owned Eddisbury Square customer car park this month, bringing with them a raft of conditions for people wishing to park their cars there.
The new conditions, which are in force 24-hours-a-day, stipulate that the parking of vehicles must comply with a maximum two-hour stay, no return within two hours, and that drivers should not park there and leave or walk off site.
Failure to comply will result in a parking charge of £100, which is discounted to £60 if payment is received within 14 days.
But locals say the signs aren’t clear enough.
Lyn Nicholson, 43, from Frodsham, parked in the car park for two and a half hours on January 19 and went to the Helter Skelter after her husband had run the Helsby Half Marathon.
She knew nothing about the new parking conditions until she received a parking ticket in the post.
She said: “The signs are not sufficiently in your face as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t look any different for people who are used to parking there. I can’t afford to pay £60 so I’m going to appeal. I’m just cross by the underhand and sneaky nature of it.”
Helsby resident Lance Yates was also caught out by the new parking conditions when he went to play badminton in the town.
He said: “The problem is that nobody knows about it until you get the ticket.
“They have not given notice to people that this new regime is in place. There is no adequate sign there to warn people.”
Paul Rogers, another Frodsham recipient of a parking charge notice, said: “The signs are there if you look for them, but they are high up, with small writing, and angled so that they are impossible to see from the entrance.
“There are no obvious signs to greet you at the entrance to let you know that new restrictions are being enforced, and unless you read the very small writing on the signs, there’s nothing to warn that number plate recognition technology is in use.”
Manager of UKCPS – which is an approved operator of the British Parking Association – Peter Haswell said: “The signs are there to be read and if people stay longer than two hours or go off site, they are going to get a ticket.
“There are more than adequate signs at the entrance and throughout the car park. They met all the British Parking Association standards.
“Two hours gives people adequate time to do their shopping there.
“Access to the car park is part of the shops in Eddisbury Square’s lease agreements.
“It is for customers of those shops only, not for people who park to go to shops or work off site.
“It will be enforced through mobile patrols in the area.”
Lee Randles, from Mason Partners, the letting agents for the Eddisbury Square retail development, said: “A new parking arrangement has been put in place as part of the planning conditions for the Sainsbury’s extension, but it was also recognised by occupiers of the shops that the car park was being abused on a fairly regular basis by people leaving their cars there to get the train, limiting the amount of space for genuine customers.
“The aim is not to charge people for parking. We feel two hours is satisfactory for genuine customers.”
Mr Haswell added that drivers can appeal the charges.
“We have an appeals department which looks at them and takes everything into consideration.
“If the appeal is not successful, there is an independent appeals service called POPLA, but drivers must have appealed to us first.”
Town and borough councillor Andrew Dawson said: “The important thing to remember is that it’s a private car park. There’s nothing Frodsham Town Council or the borough council can do about it.
“Parking is a very interesting topic and one that is going to be put out to town-wide consultation, along with issues like play areas, hopefully in February.
“Free parking is one of the things that we really value in the town. The real issue is that we are short of space.
“It’s a matter of putting our heads together to find a local solution to a local problem.”