April 17 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Cinema and restaurant-goers in Huntingdon have been left outraged after receiving £100 fines for overstaying a new time limit.
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.