Changes to confusing car park signs welcomed

Aire Street car park Castleford.
Aire Street car park Castleford.

A shopping centre boss has welcomed the news that Wakefield Council is being forced to improve signage for a Castleford car park after an independent parking adjudicator found them to be inadequate and confusing.

The council’s Aire Street car park adjoins the Bridge Street car park, which is owned by Carlton Lanes Shopping Centre, and drivers have often been left confused by which machine to buy a ticket from.

Dozens of motorists have been hit with penalty notices after parking in the council car park and buying tickets from the Carlton Lanes machine.

Wakefield Council has rejected drivers’ appeals, but the Traffic Penalty Tribunal of England and Wales has since taken the council to task, saying it needs to improve signs.

For David Bailey, centre manager of Carlton Lanes Shopping Centre, the news has been welcomed.

He said: “We have been operational for over 20 years and never had any issues, but since the council opened its car park, for the last two years we have had a lot of complaints.

“We asked them to put a fence up to separate the two car parks and they suggested we go halves on the cost - we just thought ‘why should we?’

“Somebody even damaged our fence a few weeks ago with a car that was parked in the council car park, and we asked the council if they had any temporary fencing to put there and they just said ‘no’.

“I just found it hard to believe.”

The Traffic Penalty Tribunal found that the council had not done enough to make clear that its car park was separate from the Carlton Lanes site.

What has compounded the matter is that motorists have to drive through the Carlton Lanes car park to access the council car park. The report read: “The onus in this case is on the council to prove that their signage was adequate.

“I find that it a fundamental flaw that there is no signage at this access point to notify motorists that they are entering a separate car park.

“If they park at the far end of the (council) car park they are likely to go to the nearest machine which is the Carlton Lanes one. The boundary between the two car parks is not really obvious.”

Meanwhile, motorists are still being advised that if they were fined for parking in the Carlton Lanes car park after buying a ticket from the council car park machine, they are unlikely to be successful in an appeal.

Carlton Lanes is deemed to have adequate signage that is in accordance with the British parking association.

Wakefield COuncil was told that its signage was insufficient after motorist Simon Osbourn took his case to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal of England and Wales.

The Pontefract driver was given a £25 penalty notice for paying and displaying a ticket from the wrong machine.

He twice appealed to Wakefield Council who rejected his appeal both times before it was moved up to the independent adjudicator.

He said: “It’s so easy just to pay the fine, it’s less hassle, but it just seems that it’s set up to trap you. I got my ticket and thought everything was above board.

“The signs are not adequate and not clear.”