We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info
An NHS worker says she has been left “baffled” by a £100 parking fine for an 11-minute wait at a leisure centre after a new system was introduced at the car park.
The woman, who asked only to be named Catherine, is confused about what she did wrong after collecting her children from swimming.
The ticket she got at Hengrove Leisure Centre in Bristol does not clearly state what the infringement is and she cannot even recall parking there on that date on the ticket.
She initially thought it might relate to a 10-minute restriction in the drop-off zone – meaning she stayed just one minute over the allotted time.
However, a spokesperson for the parking company has since told Bristol Live “the motorist parked in a designated disabled parking area for over 11 minutes”.
Catherine says she received the ticket on Tuesday, December 20, relating to an alleged infringement of the centre’s parking regulations on November 12.
The penalty notice for £100 was issued by Smart Parking Ltd, which took over the car park’s operation in October, and drops to £60 if paid within 28 days.
The ticket refers to the location as ‘Hengrove park leisure centre (accessible)’ and notes an arrival time of 4.15 and departure time of 4.26 – an 11-minute period.
Catherine said: “There’s a drop-off and pick-up bay outside of the leisure centre, and I often drop my children off there, and they run in and go to the swimming pool.
“I also pick them up there, but I would never park in a disabled bay if that’s what the ticket is saying, but it’s not explicit.
“The fact of the matter is they’ve clearly changed their parking system, and this is a new thing, and it’s penalising their customers, which seems baffling to me, especially as its a really inaccessible area – it’s not like you can just walk there unless you’re very local, people rely on driving to use the facilities.
“I don’t have £100 to pay for ten minutes allegedly in this parking space to drop off or pick my children up.
“I don’t even recall parking there [on that day], but the fact is even if I was parked there, it’s a ten-minute drop-off or pick-up; it’s worse than the airport!
“The amount feels really disproportionate. It’s a massive amount of money.”
Outside the front of the main leisure centre building are two parking zones, with a provision for blue badge holders and a drop-off zone where waiting longer than 10 minutes is prohibited.
Across the road is a sizeable multi-storey car park where customers can access up to three hours of free parking. Number plate recognition is in place across the site.
Catherine says she has used the facility since it first opened, paying for activities including holiday clubs, weekly swimming lessons and pool parties.
Since the new parking system was introduced in October, Catherine says she has visited twice but wasn’t aware of any signage warning that she could incur a sizable fine.
She said: “This hidden charge is going to bankrupt people like me, who have no idea about these new cameras and hidden charges.
“I am a single mum, trying to encourage my children to do something healthy and active. I think it’s a mercenary money-making scheme, and the council should be ashamed for enabling it.
“There’s very little opportunity to do things like swimming lessons and leisure and sport in schools because of the reduction in enrichment activities in the curriculum.
“Parents shouldn’t be penalised for trying to get their children fit and active.”
Hengrove Park Leisure Centre is run by LeisureCentre.com, which manages 75 leisure centre facilities on behalf of 31 local authorities throughout England and Wales.
Part of the company’s mission is “to encourage happier and healthier lifestyles”, working closely with local authorities.
A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: “The city’s leisure centres are operated by contractors and arrangements for use of the car parks are at their discretion and decisions are made by those contractors.”‘
Catherine says she initially considered trying to pay the fine “out of fear”.
She said: “I’m very law-abiding, and these sorts of things make me really anxious. I can’t bear the idea that it says it could be passed onto a debt recovery agent.”
As yet, Catherine says she has been unable to speak to anyone at Smart Parking to find out more information about the violation.
She said: “It’s all automated, the only options are you can contest it in writing or online, but you can’t speak to anyone.
“I didn’t bother ringing [the leisure centre] because I just assumed they would say, ‘it’s nothing to do with us; we don’t run the parking’.”
However, a Smart Parking spokesperson said: “Smart Parking were brought in to manage the car park at Hengrove Park Leisure Centre to prevent parking abuse and ensure people who use the centre can always find somewhere to park.
“In the case of this motorist she parked in a designated disabled parking area for over 11 minutes without providing evidence she was a blue badge holder, so correctly received a charge.”
A spokesperson for the leisure centre said: “To make sure our blue badge holders and essential operational vehicles can park as close to the building as they need to, we restrict parking in the car park and drop-off point next to the leisure centre and do not allow any other customers to park or wait here.
“Our signage makes this clear. All customers of the centre can park for up to three hours at no cost in our main car park across the road from the centre and simply need to follow all the signs in the car parks and register their vehicle’s details at reception to avoid being charged.”
Source: Read Full Article