Parking fines at Towerfields Leisure Park in Huntingdon spark outrage

Car Parking signs at Towerfields, Huntingdon Car Parking signs at Towerfields, Huntingdon

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
7:00 AM

Cinema and restaurant-goers in Huntingdon have been left outraged after receiving £100 fines for overstaying a new time limit.

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Furious readers contacted The Hunts Post after being fined for parking at the Towerfields Leisure Park for longer than three-and-a-half hours, following the ­introduction of a new parking regime on November 30.

Legal & General, the site’s ­landlord, said it introduced the limit to reduce congestion and to stop people abusing the free ­parking – it claimed people parked at Towerfields and went shopping elsewhere.

Signs have been installed around the car park warning of the changes, and there is an option inside Cineworld to register a car to allow for longer parking. However, critics say the signs are not visible enough and the extended parking scheme is not well advertised.

The limit was introduced seven weeks after new restaurants Bella Italia and Chiquito opened at Towerfields – the two units were built on 25 parking spaces.

David Collon, 52, of Park Road, Ramsey, went to Chiquito and to see Gravity with his partner Lynne Thurlbourn on November 30. “We had a good night and thought nothing of it until we got the fine through the post,” he said. “I thought it was fake at first.

“It’s terrible that after so many years they put this in without telling anyone. If you have been there many times before, you are not going to look for the signs, why would you? You can’t see them in the dark as they’re not lit.

“I don’t know why they have introduced it as they only people who park there go to the cinema or to eat or both. It’s put me off going there. Next time I will go to Peterborough instead.”

Martin Ive, 35, of St Ives, and Lee Frankham and Amy Hollinshead of Chatteris, also contacted The Hunts Post after being fined.

According to a letter sent to those who have been fined, drivers can contest the penalty notice if they can prove they visited 
the cinema or one of the Towerfields restaurants.

A spokesman for Legal & General told The Hunts Post the scheme had the backing of the businesses on site.

She said: “A new initiative has been put in place in order to ease any potential congestion for the benefit of our customers, to ensure that the facilities were not being abused by members of the public using Towerfields’ free car park to go shopping elsewhere.

“Following lengthy ­consideration and consultation we have installed a vehicle number plate recognition system to monitor dwell times of vehicles visiting the site.

“We opted for a maximum period of three-and-a-half hours – similar to other leisure parks – as we felt this was adequate to cover the vast majority of visits.

“Because of the nature of the park we did not wish to introduce a system whereby visitors actually paid to park, so have been trialling this scheme.”

The company said it was waiting for feedback from the first two weeks since the introduction of fines.

As reported in The Hunts Post in October, Legal & General undertook a parking study at Towerfields, which found the site was not fully occupied, even at peak times.

INFORMATION: To contest a fine, or for more information, call 0870 919 8000.

11 comments

  • Where exactly is it clear that you can get extra parking at cineworld...It doesn't look like its on the sign at all and surely there should be a facility where you can get this at any one of the restaurants. I noticed the signs when I went at the beg. of the month and its very hard to go to the cinema and a meal at peak times in 3.5hrs. I was constantly clock watching and had to rush my meal. Tesco car park is 3hrs, i never spend 3 hrs in Tesco. Its unfair the way they have done it and it needs to be more clearer especially when its been free parking for so long, some advert should have been put out in the hunts post etc before this came about. feel sorry for these guys who have got £100 fines just before Christmas. Totally unfair and unclear!

    Report this comment

    Hazel Taylor

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

  • As a cineworld unlimited cars holder, I would often visit the cinema and watch two sometimes three films in one day, plus eat at one of the restaurants on site, even withte extended car park option within the cinema this is no longer possible for me to do meaning I can not benefit fully from my cinema card! I Think it is disgusting. Are the people who introduced these charges going to give me my money back for my cinema card that I can't take full advantage off! It's all about them making more money! Where on earth are people shopping in Towerfields..... I am outraged....

    Report this comment

    Sarah Thurbin

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

  • Clunk 42 is spot on - where on earth are people shopping after parking at Towerfields? "Oh, I need some printer paper from Staples so rather than park there I'll park behind the cinema and walk from there". I pity the poor people going to watch the latest Hobbit film. 162mins not including trailers, buying your tickets, drinks, snacks. And forget going for a meal before or after. Looks like Peterborough Showcase will be getting busier.

    Report this comment

    MalkyLogan

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

  • Not a mention of those 'customers' who use LA Fitness too (even though, ironically, the photo only shows LA sign). I regularly go to the gym and then on to the cinema (have unlimited card which allows me to "watch as many films as I want", although the parking forbids this now). it's utter rubbish that people "go shopping" elsewhere. Where? Tesco and the B&Q sites both have much better parking facilities and there's nowhere else within walking distance. This is just another large corporate trying to bring in more revenue for its shareholders.

    Report this comment

    Clunk42

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

  • As a cineworld unlimited cars holder, I would often visit the cinema and watch two sometimes three films in one day, plus eat at one of the restaurants on site, even withte extended car park option within the cinema this is no longer possible for me to do meaning I can not benefit fully from my cinema card! I Think it is disgusting. Are the people who introduced these charges going to give me my money back for my cinema card that I can't take full advantage off! It's all about them making more money! Where on earth are people shopping in Towerfields..... I am outraged....

    Report this comment

    Sarah Thurbin

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

  • Where exactly is it clear that you can get extra parking at cineworld...It doesn't look like its on the sign at all and surely there should be a facility where you can get this at any one of the restaurants. I noticed the signs when I went at the beg. of the month and its very hard to go to the cinema and a meal at peak times in 3.5hrs. I was constantly clock watching and had to rush my meal. Tesco car park is 3hrs, i never spend 3 hrs in Tesco. Its unfair the way they have done it and it needs to be more clearer especially when its been free parking for so long, some advert should have been put out in the hunts post etc before this came about. feel sorry for these guys who have got £100 fines just before Christmas. Totally unfair and unclear!

    Report this comment

    Hazel Taylor

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

  • Lidi’s in St Neots have a similar scheme with ANPR cameras recording number plates as you enter and leave. I got fined for £80 at beginning of year. I looked on-line about these “car park operators” and the best advice was to ignore the whole process. Police and council parking fines must be paid and they have a legal right to enforce fines, however this is not a highway or council owned car park, it nothing more than private land being used to host business and parking, and the operator is a private company who buys your details from DVLA. I’m not sure of the law, but I followed the on-line advice, and never replied to the first demand, second demand threating court or third threating death and destruction and never heard anymore. What legal base does a private company have? Also most rogue parking enforcement companies have been closed down by legislation, these leaches need to be challenged, and it’s a scam. £100! The police charge £30! I bet the letter you receive cuts the fine in half for quick payment, from Lidi it did. It only works because people afraid not to pay. Notice the report states the towerfield car park is never full even at peak time! Maybe the Hunts Posts needs to represent their readership (because I haven’t seen this many comments of a subject for a long while) and take up further investigation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Report this comment

    Lets.think.this.thru

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • I also use La Fitness and have a Cineworld unlimited card. I wanted to register for extended stay few days ago but couldn't find anyone to tell me how. I kept my cinema ticket and called La Fitness for a proof of usage certificate... at first they thought I was joking until I explained the whole thing. Now I'm waiting to see if I get a ticket.

    Report this comment

    Xykon

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • I have also had a parking notice, which was issued on 301113 in the evening of day it went live. I was very shocked as we as a family have always used Cineworld and was not told about the changes and as mentioned why would you look for unlit signs on a wet dark evening, then a hidden machine in the corner of a dark corridor in the opposite direction of the screen our film was on. We had a party of 4 adults and 1 child. The film was full so had to wait for next showing and at no point was told of the 3.5 hour parking or the car registration machine. On going back to query with Cineworld on the 15 December, I was told it was the only place it could go, as there are no other plug sockets. I have appealed and waiting. I have contacted Cineworld and they say there is nothing they can do, and claim they are now telling customers. We were not again informed and complained there and then. Cineworld are not interested in helping customers as the restaurants do not have these car registration machines so this is why Cineworld hide theirs. We spoke to a few people on the evening, inside the screen who also were not aware of this. We feel let down by Cineworld and that they should take some responsibility.

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    Peter Graves

    Sunday, December 22, 2013

  • I too have been caught out with a demand for money after visiting here recently. I have been to this leisure park on countless occasions and have never been aware that there is any kind of parking time limit, I’ve asked around friends & family who have been there too and not one of them knew about it either, infact all were as surprised as I am. If this is something that has recently been introduced then it certainly wasn’t advertised or promoted or made clear either at the site entrance or at the premises of any of the businesses. I don’t doubt that the signs are around somewhere but it is difficult to comply with something new if you don’t realise, or aren’t made aware it's there? It feels like I am being penalised for using the very facilities which keep the firms there in business, I understand that parking is hopelessly inadequate for the amount of outlets on site but that certainly isn’t the fault of the general public who want to come and use the facilities! Crackpot . . . .

    Report this comment

    Bunghutcher

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • none of the vendors on site are happy with the parking restrictions, utter rubbish,the lights in the car park are not turned on when dark so cant see signs at night, and why would you be looking for them??? after going there for so many years. the sign at cineworld i was told was at eye level, is in fact over six foot high and stuck onto smoked privacy glass, laughable and again why would you be looking for it, why is no one telling you at the cinema to use this registration machine??? are they getting a cut of this ridiculous scam?? as for parking there and going shopping elsewhere that spokesman wants sacking. DIRTY MONEY MAKING SCHEME THAT WILL BACKFIRE, FROM GREEDY LANDLORDS. PLEASE AIR YOUR VIEWS IN FULL.

    Report this comment

    David Collon

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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