Comment: Car parking troubles

CAR parking rules and charges are contentious matters judging by the number of letters The Westmorland Gazette receives on the subject.

Changes introduced at South Lakeland District Council car parks recently caused particular upset when motorists realised they were required to key in registration numbers for the first time when buying a ticket.

Although people were generally happy to oblige, there were many who believed the process was an imposition preventing them from passing part-used tickets on to other motorists.

Fortunately, SLDC saw sense and soon decided to abandon the registration number requirement.

The U-turn was a good decision, for which the authority deserves credit.

In a similar way, the Lake District National Park Authority’s (LDNPA) decision to exit from its Parking Eye contracts as and when they come up for renewal is also worthy of a positive response.

Again, the Gazette’s letter pages in recent months have rustled with letters from irate visitors who have been inadvertently caught out by the private company’s number plate cameras.

The penalties for Parking Eye transgressions have also stung, with charges ranging from £60 to £120, depending whether the penalty is paid promptly or not.

So the national park authority’s plans to introduce its own more user friendly and less punitive version of Parking Eye - known as Park With Ease - has to be particularly good news.

The ‘home grown’ state-of-the-art system has been specifically designed to suit the Lake District’s particular circumstances.

For the first time, visitors will be able to select from a range of methods of payment - even opting to have a bill sent to them after they have returned home.

After the first hour, parking charges are levied in 20-minute slots and not rounded up to whole hours.

And even after all that, if a motorist fails to pay or overstays, Park With Ease imposes penalties of only £20 as long as they are paid promptly.

The sooner the system is rolled out around the whole of the Lakes the better!

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