Shoppers outraged by parking fines at Knaresborough's St James Retail Park
Visitors to Knaresborough’s St James Retail Park have expressed anger at changes to the parking restrictions after many were hit by fines.
More than 500 people have now signed a petition for clearer signage and a fairer parking system at the shopping area.
It comes as a new company has been put in charge of monitoring the parking, and the maximum stay has been reduced from four hours to three hours.
The new company, HX Car Park Management Ltd, uses Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras to capture drivers’ details - a system which was not in place at the retail park under the old parking company.
But the company says that the reduction of the maximum stay is something that was decided by the landowners, and has stressed that parking is still completely free if the terms and conditions are adhered to.
Luisa Wox, who created the petition, received a parking charge notice for £100 after visiting with her friend who suffered from osteoporosis as she outstayed the three hour limit.
She says she was unaware that the time limit had changed.
Luisa told the Knaresborough Post: “I didn’t see any clear signs informing shoppers of the change - I know there are some small new signs showing the terms and conditions, but the actual change was not highlighted anywhere and is not clear at all.”
She is hoping the petition will get to 1,000 signatures and wants to take it to HX Car Park Management Ltd to show the despair of customers. She hopes this will prompt more signage and clearer communication about the restrictions, as well as lower penalty charges.
Luisa says her ultimate goal is for the system to change altogether, such as to a Pay and Display system.
Shoppers who have signed the petition have called the restrictions “appalling” and “unfair”.
Many have said that they have also received parking charge notices as they did not realise they were no longer able to stay for longer than three hours.
They have taken to Facebook, Twitter and Tripadvisor to voice their anger at the situation.
One Knaresborough resident, Paul Atkinson, said: “I feel very strongly about this issue. I fully realise that parking at St James retail park needs to be managed and I don’t have a problem with the three hour limit - although four hours was better. It is the way the signs are so small to read and in particular the fact that the reduction in hours was never advised properly to drivers that bothers me.”
Motorists have also taken to social media to express their frustration at the ANPR system, which some say has made errors in recording their entry and departure times.
One wrote: “They have stated that their ANPR camera has got me coming into the car park for the first time but not exiting, not re-entering for the second time but got me leaving at the end.”
When contacted for comment, HX Car Park Management Ltd said that the parking time limit had already been changed before it took over and that all penalty notices had been issued in compliance with the parking policy
A spokesperson said: “The site was (previously) warden monitored as opposed to ANPR, so drivers were more likely to be able to ‘get away’ with exceeding the three hours.
“The new signage of ours is also bright green and there are 42 signs around the car park which state the terms and conditions. It is the drivers’ responsibility to ensure they have read this signage when choosing to park there.
“All parking charge notices have been issued correctly and fairly.”