Anger over St Albans City Station snow confusion

PUBLISHED: 18:19 10 February 2012

St Albans City station car park.  Upper levels closed due to snow.

St Albans City station car park. Upper levels closed due to snow.

Archant

CONFUSION over parking arrangements at St Albans Station car park after wintery conditions closed the top level may have led to prepaid ticket holders paying twice to park.

Drivers were redirected to Charington Place, the multi-storey car park off Victoria Street, once the lower levels at the Station Approach car park had filled up.

Some of those were prepaid ticket holders who found themselves having to pay another £7 daily parking fee upon exiting the car park.

One frustrated commuter, Matthew Bristow, said it was a “maddening slap in the face” for commuters who already endured “awful service, delays, cancellations and a lack of information” to be paying a total of £14 a day to park.

Investigations by the Herts Advertiser revealed that customers with an annual season ticket do not need to pay again to park in Charington Place and can park there any time.

But that was not made clear to Mr Bristow or other commuters redirected to the other car park. He said: “It would have been great of FCC to share this information with the general public. There was no information or facility to contact anyone, which in this case I’m sure works to FCC’s advantage.”

He said that withholding the information hadn’t hurt the company’s bank balance: “At a conservative estimate the top deck holds around 150 cars. If the level remains closed for a full week, that is an extra £5,250 of revenue in parking generated by forcing people to use their other car park.”

Mr Bristow, who works in central London, said that while the closure of the top level had been justified last winter when severe temperatures turned the snow to compacted ice, the snow had been lighter this time and daytime temperatures milder, with many homes across the district successfully managing to clear their drives.

He said: “On Tuesday morning, around 60 hours since the snow fell, there was no sign that FCC had dispatched anyone to clear the snow, which was actually wet slush at that point. A couple of men with shovels and sand would have cleared it in an hour. This could have been done at any point on Sunday or even on Monday but has not been.

“Considering that the car park generates between £3,000 and £4,000 of revenue a day, not spending £50 of wages to get someone out there on a Sunday to clear it is a disgrace.”

The cost to commuters wasn’t just financial and it added a further 20 minutes to Mr Bristow’s journey.

The FCC annual season ticket holder also hit out at the lack of indoor spaces available at the Station Approach car park, where the lower ground floor has recently seen a “majority” re-designated as Premium Bays.

A spokesperson for FCC said that drivers with season tickets parking in Charington Place should press a button at the exit gate to speak to the car park operator who would then let them out without paying an additional charge.

He added: “Readers, I am sure, will agree that temperatures this week have not been mild; on Wednesday morning at 7am they were -2C in St Albans. The top deck was closed because last year people were injured in the icy conditions and our customers’ safety is paramount.

“However, in the light of the gentleman’s comments, we have challenged the managers of our car parks, NCP, to justify the closure of the top deck with a view to reopening it.”

FCC have said they will arrange a refund for Mr Bristow.

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