A STAGGERING 1,117 parking ticket fines were handed out in Ellesmere Port’s main town centre car park in just five months – despite the fact it’s free.
That number, which could amount to between £28-78,000 in fines, is easily the highest in the new Cheshire West and Chester Council area.
The nearest figure to the car park at Asda is Lower Bridge Street in Chester where 258 penalty charge notices were issued between January 15 and June 11.
A total of 236 parking tickets were handed out at the Civic Centre pay-and-display in Ellesmere Port, which is nearly 900 less than the main car park.
Free parking at the Asda car park was introduced by the former borough council in November last year.
Market traders’ spokesman Keith Tickle, who runs The Shoebox, believes uncertainty over what scheme is in use is a reason for the number of tickets issued.
He also thinks signs should be more clearly displayed informing motorists they still need a ticket due to a four-hour parking limit.
Mr Tickle said: “It’s very confusing for customers. The car park is not user friendly.”
Margaret Morris, the council’s fixed penalty and income team leader, said: “It’s the largest car park and is always going to be the car park with the most penalty charge notices because it’s the most utilised.
“No tickets being displayed is the most common reason, there is a culture of people thinking they can nip in to town for five minutes. The second is parking in disabled bays.”
Motorists hit with lower level charges must pay a £50 fine, or £25 if paid within 14 days, while a higher level penalty, which includes not displaying a ticket or parking in a disabled spot, results in a £70 fine or £35 if paid early.
Next month free parking will be replaced with a free after 3pm initiative.