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Car parking signs leaves fined users confused at Whitlingham country park

PUBLISHED: 13:04 24 March 2014 | UPDATED: 13:04 24 March 2014

Whitlingham country park.

Whitlingham country park.

EDP pics © 2011

It is a popular destination enjoyed by dog walkers, leisure centre users and people stopping for a quick cuppa – but it seems that the car park at Whitlingham is causing confusion.

Based on the southern edge of Norwich next to the village of Trowse, the country park parking area, owned by the Whitlingham Charitable Trust, is situated between the Great and Little Broad.

A paid system has been in place since 2006 to help manage the park but the decision was taken to source an independent company to oversee enforcement, as John Organ, company secretary of the trust, explained.

He said: “While a number of visitors used the previous parking system, there were many who did not pay, knowing that there was no enforcement.

“Without adequate funding from car parking the park would not be able to continue to run and this is why the trustees took the decision to manage the parking through an independent company. This decision to use Parking Eye was researched thoroughly and it now manages the parking system at Whitlingham on behalf of the Whitlingham Charitable Trust.

“All of the money from the parking tariffs goes directly to the trust to manage the park, in the way that the majority of our visitors appreciate.

“The money from the parking charge notices is kept by Parking Eye in consideration of their management of the parking.”

But the car park has come under criticism by people using it who say the signs are unclear, too high, and the writing is too small to read.

Angela Bedford, 33, of Burgh, near Aylsham, was fined £100 after she waited 35 minutes in the car park as the course her children were taking part in at the Outdoor Centre had over-run.

“I have appealed and I am not going to pay,” she said.

“The outdoor education centre can’t do anything as they don’t own the land. The broads authority can’t do anything because they don’t own it either.

“People are receiving fines left, right and centre from this company.”

Frequent visitor Danny Turner, of Norwich, was also fined £100 when he parked there for 26 minutes.

“I did see the parking sign that says it costs 50p to stay for half an hour but I did not know that you had to pay if you were staying for under 30 minutes.

“I feel this £100 fine is very harsh – we didn’t even stay for the full duration 50p would have gotten us.”

Mr Organ refuted the concerns and said the trust had tried to make the system as easy to use as possible and that research into the machines and signage had taken place.

“This signage, which is made very prominent around the car parks, makes it very clear that visitors are required to pay the appropriate tariff for the duration of their stay,” he said. “A small time allowance is provided for visitors to leave if they do not wish to abide by these conditions.”

People using the car park are also invited to pay by telephone and there is the option to purchase an annual parking permit, at a cost of £30, which is explained on the signs.

For more information visit www.broads-authority.gov.uk

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