‘Duped’ driver in free parking fine

Robert Silverwood by the car parking charges sign at Lowther Pavillion, Lytham
Robert Silverwood by the car parking charges sign at Lowther Pavillion, Lytham
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A DRIVER has branded council car parking arrangements “scandalous” after being hit with a fine for parking for free.

Sheila Johnson was delighted when she realised she did not have to pay for her first hour’s parking in Lytham’s Lowther Gardens car park.

But the 71-year-old, from Bolton, was less impressed to find she had been slapped with a ticket when she returned to her car half an hour later.

Mrs Johnson had failed to spot a sign warning visitors they needed a free parking ticket – and she has slammed Fylde Council for not making the notice more obvious.

She said: “It’s absolutely scandalous, people are being duped. I got out of the car with my purse to pay because I will happily pay to park, but as soon as you see ‘free’ you don’t walk across.

“The (ticket) sign is a piece of paper which could be ripped down by anybody.”

Robert Silverwood, who runs the Pavilion Cafe at Lowther Gardens, said the system was “confusing”.

He said: “The system isn’t simple and people don’t understand it, they never have.

“My position on the car parking charges is they should never have been put in place. At the end of the day it’s a park that was gifted to people for their use and my definition of free is you park for free.”

However, Fylde Council insisted their offer of up to an hour’s free parking was a generous one to encourage visitors – and the onus was on the driver to make sure the rules were followed.

A council spokesman said: “We are sorry this lady is upset at her ticket, but the signs on the car park make it clear only the first hour is free.

“Indeed, we recently put new signs up to make it even clearer. The onus was clearly upon her to read the sign.

“If people don’t press the green button to get their free hour’s parking, then the warden can’t know how long the car has been parked there.

“This is a long-standing policy to make people’s stay enjoyable – but people do have to read the signs.”