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‘Confusing’ signs leaves mum hit with £50 fine

By Bedfordshire On Sunday  |  Posted: November 25, 2012

Rachel Allen, who received a parking fine for not displaying a ticket in a free parking area

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A MOTHER has been fined £50 for using a free car park after ‘confusing’ new signs meant it was not clear she needed to display a ticket.

Rachel Allen, 46, visits the car park in Foster Hill Road as her daughter Kia, 13, has weekly lessons in Bedford. However when she decided to leave her car there on November 13, she discovered that as of November 5 you now have to pay to park.

As a result, Rachel asked Kia to go and get a ticket from the new pay and display machines, but her daughter returned saying it was still free to leave your vehicle there for up to three hours.

Rachel said: “Another motorist confirmed it was free and on taking a quick look at the large sign, it said ‘free parking’ in very big letters.

“When I returned to my car 45 minutes later however I had a £50 penalty charge. The enforcement officer was still there and told me that it was free but that you still had to display a ticket and said that many other people had been caught out the same way.” In fact, since November 12 Bedfordshire on Sunday can reveal 81 tickets have been issued in this car park and 19 appeals already lodged.

The mum, who lives near Peterborough, was further outraged when three days later, having contacted Bedford Borough Council to appeal the fine, she was told that she must wait until she had received the ‘Notice to Owner’ which could take up to two weeks meaning she would not be eligible for the 50 per cent discount if paid early.

She said: “I believe that this is extracting money under duress by putting pressure on people not to appeal further and just pay up.”

A spokeswoman for the council said: “It has become clear that there has been a degree of confusion as to whether a ticket should be displayed during the free parking period. The council is therefore amending the signage to ensure that the requirement to display a ticket is advertised more prominently to avoid any doubt. The council will consider favourably any appeals against penalties made on that basis.”

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