A YOUNG mother has hit out at the district council and its car parking contractors NCP for causing confusion and acting irresponsibly at a busy St Albans car park.

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Cheryl Luzet is angry that after months when the ticket machines in the Westminster Lodge car parks have been missing or broken, traffic wardens are out in force trying to catch out regular users now that the machines are back in operation.

And she has now received a parking ticket herself after finding that the newly-reinstalled machines were not working – even though parking for the first three hours in the car park is free.

Cheryl has been going to Westminster Lodge with her baby on a weekly basis since April, either to use the park or the swimming pool.

As a regular user of the car parks, she knows that the first three hours are free but a ticket has to be displayed on vehicles to show what time vehicles arrive.

But the machine in one of the car parks was always out of order or missing and even though a ticket has to be obtained from one of the other car parks to validate parking there, no sign was put up to inform car park users that they had to do so.

In the spring the ticket machine in the adjoining car park disappeared and, Cheryl said, no signs were put up to say that there was no way to get a ticket.

She described it as a disrespectful and unhelpful way to treat drivers and she frequently found herself trying to explain the situation to confused visitors because the ‘Have you paid and displayed’ signs were still up with no matching machines.

To add insult to injury, when she was at Westminster Lodge a couple of weeks ago she found the machines were back but not working – and came back to her car to find a parking ticket even though she had only been there for one hour. She has now accused St Albans council, which owns the car parks, of punishing her for their defective paying facilities.

She believes the council and NCP have acted irresponsibly on three counts – by not informing drivers of the missing and defective machines, failing to replace the machines promptly and failing to inform drivers that they have now replaced the machines and they are working.

A spokesperson for the district council said they regretted the inconvenience caused to residents by the spate of vandalism which had affected the machines issuing parking tickets at Westminster Lodge and they had made every effort to get replacement machines as soon as possible.

She explained that they were in place and working by July 30 but maintained that prior to that date notices had been placed on the information boards explaining the situation and where alternative machines were located.

The spokesperson said that there were no reports of machines not working on the day Cheryl had received a parking ticket but if she or anyone else felt there were mitigating circumstances and wished to challenge the ticket, they should appeal either online at https://live.esd.ce.civicahosting.co.uk/stalbans/Notices/ChallengePcn.aspx or by completing the parking appeal form and sending it to The Parking Shop, Drovers Way, St Albans, Herts AL3 5EB.

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