Chaos as free parking ends

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FRUSTRATED commuters were left with parking tickets on Monday after the council revealed it would have cost £10,000 to have uncovered the new pay and display signs any earlier.

Black bags were left over some of the new signs until well after the 9am start on Monday, prompting some early starters to think the new restrictions were not yet in force as they left their cars for the day.

However, 3,872 free spaces became 30p per-hour standard rate spots, leaving many with parking tickets.

A council spokesman said uncovering the new signs would have cost the taxpayer £10,000.

He said: “If we had done this on Saturday, before the new arrangements came into place we felt it could have confused people. We did actually have some people removing the bags last week and trying to pay – and if we’d done it on Sunday night it would have cost the council – and ultimately the taxpayer, approximately £10k.

“We would, of course, not issue penalty fines if the signing was not correct, or if it was in a bay with a sign with a bag over it.”

The changes also saw queues out the door of the council offices, with people trying to buy and renew parking permits and scratch cards.

The spokesman added: “What we hadn’t counted on was so many people coming in such a short, concentrated period. That said, we know many people are working, and they all have busy lives, and we appreciate they may have only had a very limited window in which to visit the council offices.

“The queues were comparable to those you get when everyone needs to tax their car at the last minute.

“Nobody likes paying for anything but the funding from these new arrangements will help pay for important public transport improvements to bus services etc.

“We are still cheaper than most, if not all, surrounding areas.”