Gym users and school-run parents are fuming after falling foul of a new parking regime at Hemel Hempstead’s Sportspace – when they insist they didn’t break the rules.
Dad Mark Simpson is livid after wife Sourie was hit with a possible £150 fine for dropping off and picking up her teenage daughter in the car park as part of the school run.
He says nearby Hemel Hempstead School advises parents to drop their children off in the Boxmoor sports centre car park rather than Heath Lane because it is safer.
Cameras caught Sourie driving into the car park just after 8am and leaving just after 4pm, triggering a penalty for apparently parking there all day.
The parking company bought in to run the new regime failed to realise the teaching assistant had driven out straight after dropping off her 13-year-old and after picking her up in the afternoon.
When Mark went to the gym to complain he said the manager admitted there was a problem and scores of others were there to contest their fines, too.
“There was one bloke with three tickets and he is a member,” said Mark.
Some were not aware of a new scheme where they have to enter their registration number into a console if they are parking for more than 20 minutes.
Mark said: “There is absolute uproar. It is really, really underhand.”
Sourie fears there may be more fines in the pipeline, as her ticket relates to May 15 and she drops her daughter off regularly.
The crackdown was introduced because motorists were using the busy car park for free while going shopping in the town centre or heading to work via the train station.
Motorists are now limited to a maximum of three hours of parking and fines start at £75 if paid within 14 days, after which it goes up to £150.
Sportspace spokesman Elise Hyslop said: “There are over 40 car park signs plus additional large banners and posters leading up to reception. Staff have been briefed to ask customers whether they have registered their car.
“We had a ‘bedding in period’ for two weeks and the fines went live on May 1.
“Unfortunately we are not able to control fines that are issued and any discrepancies must be taken up directly with Creative Parking Solutions.
“The new car park system was only implemented to help customers who were complaining that they were unable to get a parking space due to non-users parking all day.”
Sportspace makes no revenue from the parking system.
>The centre has been forced to put back the completion date for its changing rooms refurbishment after a delay in receiving cubicles. However, the work should be complete by mid July.