Dozens of motorists have been fined after falling foul of a new parking system at Goose Green Car Park – but the company behind it has denied claims it has failed to properly communicate the changes.
Smart Parking Ltd was appointed by owners The Derwent Group to manage the Denmark Street car park – next door to Total Fitness – back in May.
The previous ticket system was replaced with a new number plate recognition system, with users now required to obtain a ticket on entry and input their registration number. All entry and exit barriers have subsequently been removed.
The car park is now open for longer and ticket prices have been reduced, with a single-hour stay now costing 80p and a stay of over seven hours now priced at £7.50.
But many regular users of the car park have taken to social media to complain after receiving £60 fines by Smart Parking Ltd.
Some have said that they were not aware of the changes due to inadequate signage, while others have said they simply inputted a wrong registration number.
Others have been caught out for not registering their car’s details before a visit to Total Fitness – despite users of the gym being allowed a free two-hour stay in the car park.
One user, Sabrina Brown, told us that the new system arrived with “almost zero warning to car park users”.
She said: “From the 1st July there was a promise of new signage and guards in uniform to inform customers that a new tariff was in place. Instead, there were no guards in sight and no new signage to inform people of the changes. The huge old sign at the entrance was still in its original position as was the other old signage throughout the car park, detailing the original tariffs. The barriers were left wide open although the ticket machines were taped over and with no other inform to go by many, many people parked thinking it was free.
“Needless to say there are a high number of very unhappy people who have received fines. Anyone who has appealed has instantly had their appeal rejected. They will now make £1000s out of people who would have otherwise been quite happy to pay their parking tariffs for the length of their stay.”
But Smart Parking has denied claims that the signage was inadequate, and said the new system was required to stop the previous “abuse”.
A spokesperson told us: “Smart Parking were brought in to manage the Goose Green car park in Altrincham to prevent parking abuse where motorists were overstaying and not paying the correct amount for their parking.
“Goose Green is a private car park so to prevent this parking abuse, we have installed a state of the art ANPR system which collects the registration numbers and times of cars entering and exiting the car park. We would remind motorists when parking on private land to always read the terms and conditions of use before they decide to park.”
The spokesperson added: “Smart Parking are members of the British Parking Association and strictly follow its guidelines. As part of this we placed over 48 signs across the car park clearly explaining the new terms and conditions of use. The number of signs erected were 30% more than the guidelines set out by the BPA.
“In addition, when we started operating the new system we based staff at the car park so they could explain the new system face to face with motorists. In the Total Fitness Gym we also added two additional ticketing machines to make it even easier for users to register for their two hours of free parking.
“We have continued to monitor the car park and this has included putting additional signage up during the refurbishment work currently being undertaken at the site.”
Smart Parking said that anyone who feels they have “genuinely mitigating circumstances” should follow their BPA-audited appeal process, as detailed in any letter received about a fine.