Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Drivers face £35 fines for abusing short-stay parking

FINES may be issued to drivers who exceed short-stay parking restrictions at the Hill Road car park in Watlington.

FINES may be issued to drivers who exceed short-stay parking restrictions at the Hill Road car park in Watlington.

The parish council is considering applying for new powers to enforce restrictions at the free car park instead of putting warning stickers on offenders’ cars.

Drivers would be fined around £35 if their car was parked for longer than two hours in the short-stay bays. This penalty would be doubled if the car was left for more than 24 hours and vehicles could be towed if they are parked incorrectly.

Council chairman Ian Hill said: “People complain about the lack of space in the car park. There are two sides of the car park designated for two-hour parking which seems to be ignored.

“It’s clear that some cars sit there for quite a long time. What we need is the car park order so we are able to enforce that.

“There is no guarantee it will work but at least it will encourage most people not to dump their cars in short-term parking spaces.

“The car park is funded largely by traders and they want people to be able to park and get to the shops easily. What we want to ensure is that there are always spaces and the way we can do that is with short-term parking so there is a regular turnover. “

A survey carried out in a week in November found that the car park was at its busiest between 11am and 1pm when it was full or almost full.

Some cars were found to be parked outside the authorised bays and some remained in short-term bays for more than two hours. One car was left in a two-hour disabled bay for three days withoutn a blue badge on display.

Traders have mixed views about the idea of fines.

Simon Jones, chairman of Watlington Business Association and director of auctioneers Jones & Jacob, said: “The worry would be who is going to do the administration and how much is that going to cost?

“We condemn folk who park, as it were, illegally, particularly those who use disabled parking spaces. Drivers should observe the two-hour limit but people are always going to ignore signs.”

Louise Nisbet, who owns Wild Thyme florists, said clamping down on people who abused the car park was a “fantastic” idea but added: “You need to be practical — where are people supposed to park? There are lots of residents who don’t have parking. Of course we’d like the car park to be empty so all our customers can park when they like but equally we want people to come into the town and live.”

Tally Dawson, who owns the Galley Cookshop, said: “Over the last seven years Watlington has seen a dip in the number of visitors as well as the loss of some of our shops. Fining our remaining loyal customers will only put other visitors off. It only takes one person to park in the wrong place by mistake and receive a fine, and then they tell all their friends and we lose yet more visitors.”

James Gerring, owner of the Hair by James salon, said: “There needs to be some sort of enforcement and I think the two-hour area of the car park should be extended. I appreciate there is a shortage of parking in Watlington but for us as a business we need to have that frequent turnaround so that shoppers are able to park.”

Finbarr Calnan, owner of butchers Calnan Bros, thought fining offenders was a “great idea”.

He said: “People could come and do their shopping a lot more easily, which would make a big difference. The short-stay is a designated area and people don’t adhere to it. In the High Street, similarly, there are one-hour restriction notices which people ignore.”

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