Anger over festive parking fines

LORNA MARSH Parking restrictions at a Norfolk shopping complex which saw scores of festive shoppers fined up to £60 could be scrapped, it emerged last night .

LORNA MARSH

Parking restrictions at a Norfolk shopping complex which saw scores of festive shoppers fined up to £60 could be scrapped, it emerged last night.

The EDP has been inundated with angry complaints from shoppers regarding the "ridiculous" two-hour limit parking limit and regime of fines at the Norwich Retail Park, which houses a huge Woolworths as well as a Currys, Outfit fashion store, Next, Mamas and Papas, Argos, JJB Sports and Boots.

The system of fines - which sees the penalty reduced to £40 if motorists pay within two weeks and includes 30 minute leeway for motorists who exceed the time limit - was introduced in November.

Ironically, even one of the stores, Woolworths, last night said it "did not agree" with the parking policy at the complex.

A spokesman for Savills, the agents who manage the park, said the limit was increased to three hours in the fortnight before Christmas - giving motorists "ample" time to shop.

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She said it was brought in to

prevent commuters and football fans using the car park.

But she also revealed that alternative methods to deal with the issue were being looked into, such as allowing those who could produce receipts to park free for the appropriate time.

Readers hit by the fines for going over the limit by a matter of minutes are outraged - especially since there was not even the option to pay a realistic ticket price for extra parking if needed over the two hours.

Some said they had spent time splashing out hundreds of pounds in the stores only to be punished for it.

For the purposes of the time limit the separate car parks outside the parade of shops housing Woolworths and the one housing Boots are treated as one so shoppers can not park for two hours in one to use the shops there and then move to the other. Shoppers'cars are monitored on CCTV and a fine is then mailed to their homes.

Peter Ford, who was sent a letter telling him to pay the fine despite the fact someone else using his car went a fraction over the limit, claimed the fine was illegal and was prepared to challenge it in the courts.

Mr Ford said that there was little evidence of the court enforcing the fine in similar incidents around the country but that not many people knew this and paid the fine automatically.

"I have enough time and funds to do this and I think it needs to be done to make a point," he said. "It should be four hours or an entirely different system that has a more legal basis.

Mr Ford said he was also reporting the car park management company G24 to the police for harassment.

Debbie Coghiel said she was "livid" over the fine after going shopping with her friend Sharon Fulcher, who spent more than £200 in the Riverside shops during the trip.

A spokesman for Woolworths said: "This affects all retailers on the park. Woolworths does not agree with the policy and is doing everything it can to challenge it."