Furious shoppers who received parking tickets at Rushmere Shopping Centre say they were unaware new rules had been introduced.
Two motorists were landed with a £100 fine (£60 if paid promptly) after they fell foul of the new regulations.
According to Rushmere, 127 signs informing motorists of the new parking regulations were erected on July 18 - a month before the rules were due to come into force.
Amanda Barr and her husband were issued with a ticket on Sunday afternoon. She said, “The centre was extremely busy and we could not find a parking space. My husband decided to park on an area that was hatched with white paint.
“Whilst it was not a designated parking space its location meant that it was not obstructive to any other vehicles or people. We saw other cars parked in similar spots as we passed by.”
On returning to their car, they found they had been given a ticket and Mr Barr, a professional photographer, took some photos.
Said Mrs Barr, “We went into the centre armed with this evidence and also photos showing others parked in similar areas whose cars were not ticketed.”
She said the person who had issued the tickets was unable to explain why their car was the only one ticketed and that when they asked for the telephone number of management they were told staff were unable to give it to them.
Mrs Barr, who has written a letter of complaint to the centre and vows she will not be back until the ticket is withdrawn, added, “We fully accept that some form of traffic control is necessary ... but we also feel that some common sense and discretion would go a long way, especially at really busy times.”
Another woman is refusing to pay her fine which she received on a busy Saturday afternoon. She said, “I couldn’t find a space anywhere and ended up parking on the kerb. Other people had done the same and I didn’t think I had done anything wrong as I wasn’t blocking anyone else, I didn’t see any signs. It’s just a pound-pinching scheme.”
A spokesperson for Rushmere said it had decided to appoint a car parking management company after polls revealed customer concern at the abuse of disabled parking bays and parent and toddler bays, as well as parking on double yellow lines, on the kerb or on footpaths.
She pointed out that the centre has 1,800 free spaces. “We fully accept that it will take time for customers to get used to the new rules and to start seeing the benefits,” she added.