UP to 25 diners at a popular Devon pub have been hit with parking fines in a suspected sting operation aimed at catching drivers who fail to pay for overnight parking.
Former town councillor Simon Nott branded the move as unfair, and said he believed Mid Devon District Council deliberately targeted revellers of the White Ball Inn on Thursday, August 21, because of its popular curry night event.
Mr Nott, who lives in Tiverton, wants the council to revoke their overnight parking charges policy because of the detrimental effects on the night time economy and because many drivers are ignorant of the introduction of the charges.
The system which was brought into effect at the beginning of August has seen drivers around Mid Devon issued with a £50 parking fine for using council car parks between the hours of 5pm and 8am if they fail to pay for a ticket.
Mr Nott began his campaign after his girlfriend was issued a ticket for parking in the Westexe car park during the night of the mass ticketing.
Sandra Hibbert was also enjoying an evening meal at the White Ball Inn and returned afterwards to find a row of vehicles lined with tickets.
Ms Hibbert said: “I have been born and bred in Tiverton and all my life parking in the town after 5pm has been free.”
Ms Hibbert’s daughter was also fined meaning the family could face paying up to £100.
Ms Hibbert said: “If we’d have known about the charges we would have paid for a ticket in the first place. They know ‘curry club’ would be busy on Thursdays, it’s like they did it on purpose.”
Parking tickets issued by Mid Devon District Council are reduced to £25 if paid within the first 14 days. But neither Mr Nott nor Ms Hibbert intend to pay for their ticket.
Mr Nott said: “I don’t feel we should pay, the signs are misleading. I would bet anyone issued with a ticket was completely ignorant of the changes. I want others to come forward who have suffered from this.”
Mr Nott has created a petition campaigning for Tiverton car parks to revert back to being free of charge after 5pm.
Mr Nott said: “The imposition of overnight charges for MDDC-controlled car parks will have a detrimental impact on town-centre residents, the night-time economy, local community events and on the huge number of community organisations that meet in the towns in the evenings. It discourages visitors and projects a negative image of our area.”
So far the campaign has received 61 signatures in favour of the removal of the charges.
Town councillor Kevin Wilson is supporting this campaign. He said: “I am glad to hear local residents are revolting over night-time car parking charges.This ridiculous scheme may have a significant detrimental effect on the night time economy. I am surprised other councillors in the town have remained quiet on this matter supposedly being pro-business and tourism.”
Paul Williams, head of environmental services at Mid Devon District Council, said: “The tariff board states clearly that overnight charges apply; the free 15 minutes requires a ticket, otherwise how would anyone know how long the person had been parked there. The rear of the ticket gives the appeal procedure but it isn’t a defence to say I didn’t know. The offence is not having a paid and display ticket visible.”