A council has been caught painting under-sized parking spaces and then dishing out fines to motorists who can’t get their cars to fit in them.
The government has recommended that all spaces should be a minimum of 2.4 metres by 4.8 metres since 1994, but some in the town of Newbury are up to a metre short, the Telegraph reported.
142 drivers fined in total
West Berkshire Council has admitted to fining 142 motorists £50 each for “not parking wholly within the bay”, but said that it will not display warnings and will continue to rely on the discretion of traffic wardens.
The spaces were measured by Newbury resident and retired architect Stan Green, who took to the town’s car parks with a measuring stick in order to confirm fears that the spaces were under-sized.
Mr Green is now calling for the council to reimburse each motorist fined for not parking right, saying: “It seems as many as 90 per cent of the bays in Newbury are below the Government’s recommended dimensions. Some are even too small for a Mini!”
Measurements taken by Mr Green showed that no spaces in the town are large enough to accommodate SUV or large saloon cars, while up to a third of cars couldn’t fit in the bays.
Mark Edwards, head of the council’s highways and transport department, and Mark Cole, the country’s traffic manager accepted that the bays don’t meet recommended government sizes.
However, both said that putting up signs to warn drivers that they risked fines was implausible, saying that it should be left to the country’s wardens to decide whether or not to punish drivers.
Late last year, it was revealed by the RAC that the government rakes in as much as £667m each year from parking fines alone, with motorists in London hit the hardest.
‘Not deliberately made to trap motorists’
In a personal exchange of emails, Mr Edwards and Mr Cole confirmed that 142 Penalty Charge Notices were issued in Newbury car parks, but denied that the bays had been deliberately made smaller to trap motorists.
Mr Cole said: “Probably not enough attention was paid to building them to the standard size. However, it does mean that we can provide more car parking for more people coming to the town.
“If we built new bays tomorrow, they would all be 2.4 metres by 4.8 metres, as that is the standard we would be expected to provide, but we won’t be doing anything to the ones in place at the moment.”
However, Mr Green fired back: “I don’t think West Berkshire’s transport and parking people have deliberately made the bays smaller to mug motorists.
“In truth, it looks like incompetence, and a failure in its duty to provide a proper infrastructure. It merely required simple observation, a tape-measure, white paint, a brush, and a desire to do the job properly.”