‘I had to pay £40 for free parking’ – driver caught out by new ticket rules
A motorist is refusing to pay the £40 fine she received despite being entitled to free parking.
Caron Gill was caught out at Sizewell beach, where motorists are now required to display a ticket even if they park within the half-hour free limit.
Mrs Gill, of Leiston, is a regular user of the car park, but was unaware of changes brought in by the district council in May.
Positioning her car a near a Suffolk Coastal Norse parking enforcement vehicle, she went to walk her dog and returned 15 minutes later to find she had been slapped with a ticket – as had a holidaymaker from Wales.
“I went over and had a word with the lady, who said the system had been in place for six weeks and that I should have put a ticket in my window,” said Mrs Gill.
“She must have seen me come and go, then told me I had to pay £40 – for free parking.
“I maybe flashed a glance at the sign when I arrived, but didn’t look closely and had no idea the rules had changed.”
Mrs Gill, who has appealed the decision, said she was concerned other people were just as unaware.
“I shouldn’t have to read all signs every time I park, even if I park in the same car park every day, in case it changes,” she said.
Charges apply at Sizewell beach between March 1 and October 31.
In April, new pay and display machines came in across the district – partially due to the new pound coins. The machines also issue free half-hour tickets.
A spokesman said it took the guess work out of allowing half-hour free parking, by giving an accurate record of when drivers arrived, and avoiding doubt over their length of stay.
Additional signs, advising ‘30 minutes free parking – take ticket from machine, display in vehicle’, were put up on May 10 on both sides of the entrance to the car park and at the machine.
The council said 513 free tickets were issued by May 31.
A spokesman said: “If our inspectors are present, and the opportunity arises, they will always give advice about the conditions of use of the car park.
“However, at this particular car park, it is not always apparent that people are not going to use the ticket machine or visit the adjacent café to get change for the machine.
“As such, we would always advise people to carefully read the signage to check the condition of use for any car park, even if it is one they visit regularly.”