Car parking signs leaves fined users confused at Whitlingham country park

Whitlingham country park. Whitlingham country park.

Donna-Louise Bishop
Monday, March 24, 2014
1:04 PM

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.

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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

33 comments

  • Typical tinpot dictation. Bullying the way along but as soon as someone makes a fuss they meet their mats. This needs to come soon enough!

    Report this comment

    ''V''

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • I'm local and i'm with Nick on this issue. The natural beauty and tranquility of the place is seriously disturbed. The whole development of it meant hundreds of trees being cleared and everything being prepared for the motorcar and multiple access. It has spolied it for the genuine walkers and cyclists who come and preserve the area without the need to drive there. Dogs are left off the lead and any criticism results in howls of indignation over poor pucks quality of life. We had our picnic disturbed by multiple dog owners thinking that we would enjoy their pooches going threough our baskets, who cares were they had their nose last. Whitlingham is a money making operation for the trust and the family who owns the grounds.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014

  • Norfolk John - haven't the Broads been procent to be medieval peat diggings, which makes them man-made rather than "natural"? Given some of the parking charges around the city, 50p doesn't sound a lot. You'll get charged more than that in beauty spots in Cornwall.

    Report this comment

    So_Many_Haters!

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • I don't understand all this. If there are ticket machines on site and signs inviting you to buy one, then why don't you? Why refuse to pay a fine when you have not complied with the requirements of the organisation that lets you park. The easy way not to get a fine is to comply, it's a bit like people who run on when they get caught speeding. If you don't speed, you won't get a ticket. If you buy a ticket to cover the amount of time you park your car, you will hear no more. What could be more simple ?

    Report this comment

    crunchy dick

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • @ a fine city. I am glad that you couldn't follow the lack of logic from someone who says "i did see the sign to pay for 30 minutes but thought you had to stay for 30 minutes!" [The lower case 'i' is not mine.] Like 'I haven't paid my insurance because the dog ate the form .. .' Interested to know what IS a 'loo's etc'?

    Report this comment

    Patrick

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • It's a really nasty approach, totally out of keeping with the nature of the location. I had a bad experience with their car park last year. I parked there and sat in my car for 10 mins before driving off. As I left somebody told me to expect a fine in the post. Fortunately I never received one but it left a sour taste behind. Stinks of Big Brother and doesn't fit in at all with the experience intended. I won't be heading there again.There are plenty of other beautiful spots I can park at for free.

    Report this comment

    Josh

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Daisy Roots - I worked out it wasn't meant for me :-) . And you're right: I'm not local. My relatives came from Little Fransham, and I've lived in the area several times over the decades, but I couldn't be called local. Thank you for history, though. Every day becomes a learning experience, as I wasn't aware of the difference between this location and the other "broads". Getting back to the main story, I've paid the couple of times I went there as a "pay & display" car park is just that. At both sides of the visitor centre entrance there are yellow signs giving the parking charges. If people don't see them, they must also fail the minimum eyesight requirements for driving, which means they should consider a sight test or giving up their licence.

    Report this comment

    So_Many_Haters!

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • So-M-Haters the pay up comment was not directed at you, sorry I did not make that clear. I have a vague recollection that the start up costs for creating the leisure park came from the aggregate extraction company-environmental levy-and not all from council tax. But I may be wrong. I liked it when one could just tootle down Whitlingham Lane for a picnic on the river lawns, like being in a Norwich School painting.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Just to clear up a point for So-many-haters who may not be local. The Broads are all peat diggings-no question about that, the sale and purchase of the peat, the ownership by parishes is documented and research by Ted Ellis and others proved the man made nature. However Whitlingham is not a Broad and should never have been named such Nor is it a mere.The two holes in the ground are gravel pits, dug in the wet meadows beside the Yare ( which in themselves were a special environment) and the gravel extracted use in part in the construction of the Norwich Southern Bypass. In Norfolk we call a Pit a Pit-eg at Sparham and Lenwade, but this was not fancy enough for those who developed the leisure facility at Whitlingham. As for parking-pay up -if you can afford to drive there you can afford to pay to park-but-the fine is far too excessive in relation to the cost of the parking . The trustees should look again at how they run their parking scheme.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • I went to London recently those by the road parking meters charge from 50p for 5 minutes to £2 for 15 minutes, but you expect that in London. I back what most others say, as long as the charges benefits the trust good, but if it's to line the pockets of others then yes boycott it. Shame though it is a lovely place to take the family on a nice summers day :)

    Report this comment

    melalmighty

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • If you go online you will see the legal advice that clearly states that this is a con and that if you do not reply to their threats of fines and legal action after three letters they take no further action. This bully boy organisation has no legal rights and merely frighten people into payment. Aldi in Great Yarmouth operate the same scheme and we did not answer any mail as advised by the web site legal adviser and after 3 letters never heard from these leeches again. The company has also been subject of Watchdog and it is apparent that they are just a money making scam. Please do check this outfit on line and you will see that by ignoring their letters they have no contract with you as a motorist . Advice is DO NOT PAY OR RESPOND TO THEIR OFFICIAL LETTERS

    Report this comment

    Claire Voyant

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • This whole arrangement is outrageous, the concept that parking charges cover the cost of management of what is simply a country park run by a Trust where as, in fact this profit is going into the pockets of a private company is unacceptable. Best thing to do is indeed to boycott the whole thing. A lot of time, money and effort has been spent on this facility with the intention that it could be used freely by everyone, Now apparently it is becoming simply another private adventure park.

    Report this comment

    Nick

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Headline: Car Parking signs leaves --- plural subject, singular verb. Tut tut.

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    Patrick

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Sorry but I always pay when I go, as the sign says too! Whether it's enforced or not. I don't see why other people should get away with it. I do however think that £100 is a bit steep compared to the usual £60 fines most people get for things! If everyone paid, maybe they wouldn't of done this measure, but because you want to save 50p in life you deserve the fine! For people who do pay this will make no difference! Do these people think pay machines scattered about the car park are decoration??

    Report this comment

    Sarah Driver

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • I personally think that the entire Whitlingham project has been a waste of tax payers money. There are plenty of natural broads and walks available in Norfolk without having to build them! However, having spent the money, why should people be charged for car parking?

    Report this comment

    Norfolk John

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Parking eye are an awful company, I don't trust them one bit. I got an angry phone call from them telling me I was ordered to pay them £250 because I hadn't paid my fine. Yes I visited Whitlingham Park on the day they told me, but I had paid! Unfortunately as it was 6 months later I obviously didn't have the ticket. It was the first day of the new system with cameras installed, so strongly believe they were faulty.... I paid, so they would have it on camera and record! (They said I didn't pay at all). I also done some research and apparently they can't order money from you without sending a first and second letter.... Which strangely I never got... I refused to pay after months of them harassing me,and adding the bill higher! They've left me alone now and I've never been back since. Funnily enough I know someone who this has happened to

    Report this comment

    Harriet

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Its time the management of this so-called enterprise took some responsibility and enforced the rules about dogs. There are always out-of-control dogs spoiling the enjoyment of the site by others and hence I usually tend to avoid it.

    Report this comment

    Birdman

    Friday, March 28, 2014

  • Andy T I don't think disabled badge holders should have to pay, I'm sure if they had a choice they would rather be able bodied and pay for parking, but I do see where you are coming from, also the blue badge holder may be a child or someone who is unable to work, I do know that the amount of disabled spaces is calculated on how many parking spaces there are in total.

    Report this comment

    melalmighty

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Claire Voyant, you are right if you ignore threats they do eventually give up, they do not take you to court because they know it would be thrown out because what that have lost does not reflect the parking charge (fine really). They send about a dozen threatening letters that have no weight behind them at all. They all say really nasty things to intimidate you and are purely designed to worry you into paying...! After a few months of ignored letters they just give up...!

    Report this comment

    MickB1

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014

  • fines kept by private company + lots of fines being issued = LOADS OF PROFIT

    Report this comment

    A business with big ambitions

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Private companies cannot issue "fines". Suggest you search for ''moneysavingexpert parking fines'' to find out if you can ignore them or not. It all seems to depend on whether the owner of the land is also a private company.

    Report this comment

    Sugarbeet

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • When we lived in the city, we used Whitlingham Broad every weekend. We payed our parking,walked our dog, picked up our dog's pooh, stopped for a coffee or had a picnic and enjoyed the country park. We were only to happy to contribute towards the up keep of such a lovely area. We no longer live in the city and enjoy coastal walks these days instead.

    Report this comment

    Joanna

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • It is not really a country park more of a place for dog wonders to take their dogs for exercise and to use as a toilet for them judging by the huge amount of dog mess on all the paths, most of the dog owners also allow their dogs to chase wildfowl into the broad even in the designated nature area

    Report this comment

    blister

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Simple solution is to boycott the place until the parking problems are sorted. Perhaps a lifting barrier is too simple? Lots of lovely places to go to in Broadland without risking a £100.00 fine.

    Report this comment

    peter waller

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Whittlingham park may have been a good concept as an urban introduction to the real wonders of the Norfolk Broads, I do however question the fact that a huge amount of public money has been spent on a facility that does little for Norfolk and simply enhances the already huge sums spent on Norwich. The urbanisation of the countryside now regualy includes the introduction of fee's for parking. This means that we are now having to pay for what was (for those that can recall Whittlingham lane in the 60's) simply a nice way to spend a couple of hours. Many people, including myself would love to be able to access such area's without a car, unfortunately some of us who are less mobile need their use. In Norfolk we generally now see disabled parking charged for. Those that feel that it's perfectly reasonable to charge have a point, had it not been for the fact that we have in fact already paid for such facilities via taxation. Another suggestion that those that are fined are simply stupid, is not bourn out by the fact that a large number of people have failed to understand this system, a system that is clearly designed to generate money and has little to do with car park maintenance.

    Report this comment

    Nick

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • It is not really a country park more of a place for dog wonders to take their dogs for exercise and to use as a toilet for them judging by the huge amount of dog mess on all the paths, most of the dog owners also allow their dogs to chase wildfowl into the broad even in the designated nature area

    Report this comment

    blister

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Is he being serious? I only stayed 26 minutes, i did see the sign to pay for 30 minutes but thought you had to stay for 30 minutes! Has he not parked anywhere else in the country. I will explain, if you pay for 30 minutes, you can stay up to 30 minutes, if you stay for 31 minutes, you need to pay again. Its not hard to understand. The signs are visible and not hard to see. People think they can sit in their cars waiting and drive off if they see an enforcement officer approaching. These people are at it! Parking fees are needed here as a great many people park, go for a walk, use the loo's etc and dont but anything in the cafe. Nothing is free in life.

    Report this comment

    DaveG

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Nick I sympathise with the truly disabled. However, with disability laws ensuring that employers pay equal wages, why should a disabled person earning the same as me get away with free parking when I have to pay? To keep Whitlington the way it is, it needs to charge to be able to help pay for upkeep. The thinking that you've already paid via taxation is to say the very least, misguided.

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Enforcement - OK. £100 fines for overstays of a few minutes - NOT OK at all.

    Report this comment

    gilded beams

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Nick, the fines go to the management company, the parking tarrifs go the the trust. Pay properly and the Trust gets more and the management company gets less because there would be less parking charge notices issued. The signs are fairly clear. You drive past a meter as you go into the car park. As a driver if you see a meter and really think it's not going to cost you anything then you are really too stupid to be behind the wheel!

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • It's about time people were made to pay! This is a beautiful site. In the Summer and when the weather is good it's ruined by the people who either park on the road (hope they will be caught) and people clogging up the car park eating picnics without paying. The money goes into the Park funds so I for one am pleased..

    Report this comment

    not-a-carrot-cruncher

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • “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." In which case you are too stupid to be driving a car. PAY FOR THE CAR PARK AND YOU WON'T GET A FINE!

    Report this comment

    a fine city

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • The firm used Parking Eye it is said has been thoroughlylooked at. It is a no caring pathetick company who have no contact with the public direct. Many have been sent excess parking notices with the ussyal threats. thees at times have been for no reason. The times you go into and exit are caught on camera with your registration, which is then easily traced to ownership through the price paid to DVLA for the information. The Trustees of this so called recreation site are just as responsible I stayed a little while over my time 2 Years ago and had to pay a hefty fine. I wrote to the CEO of the Trust and explained I had assisted a person who had sustained an injury, and as a qualified First Aider had administered assistance, but this was thrown out despite proof. The signage again is not large so can also be confusing. Since that date I would not give my money to the Whittlingham Trust or their cafe and extortionate prices, and we have been no where near it. My advice its worth parking on the side of the road even if it means a walk;.

    Report this comment

    edifir

    Monday, March 24, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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