Published: 11:30, 09 May 2017
Shoppers at a retail park have been caught out by new parking cameras and fined for outstaying their welcome after they were trapped in their cars for more than two hours in parking gridlock.
New automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras went live at Ashford Retail Park in Sevington last month after signs were installed on the site telling drivers they could stay for a maximum of three hours, or risk a £100 fine.
Now the Easter break madness - which left people trapped in the main retail park car park for more than two hours on bank holiday Monday - is expected to have produced scores of fines to motorists.
Peter Donald, from Kingsnorth, got in touch with KentOnline's sister paper the Kentish Express after receiving a £100 fine yesterday, three weeks after the chaos occurred.
He said: “We went about our normal business. We were probably there about an hour and a half. We came out of Costa and it was absolutely gridlocked.”
His family returned to their car and it took them around 20 minutes to leave their space near B&M, and more than two hours to leave the main car park.
He said: “My family and I were stranded in a gridlocked car park when trying to leave.
“We were in our car in excess of about two hours. No one was letting anyone out.
“There were people parking up on the main road.”
Once they were finally off of the car park, it only took around ten minutes to leave onto the dual carraigeway.
But the family received a surprise letter at the beginning of this week.
Mr Donald continued: “On Monday we received a penalty charge notice from Highview Parking who enforce the three hour time limit on parking at this site.
“They must have had a flood of Penalty Charge Notices from this day.
“What troubles me is that there’s no quality control. It was utter madness. It’s just a money making exercise.
“I find it rather disappointing that these companies apply no common sense or quality control to their issuing of parking fines to innocent motorists who have over stayed due to no fault of their own.”
The notice indicated that the family were on the site for around four hours in total.
The fine is initially issued as £100 but reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days. If it is not paid within 28 days, it is increased by another £40. The signs note that no return is allowed to the site within one hour.
Mr Donald has appealed the fine due to the circumstances and the case has been put on hold until the Donalds receive an official response.
Highview Parking has been contacted for comment.
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More by this authorMolly Mileham-Chappell