Parking problems continue at St Albans’ Westminster Lodge

Westminster Lodge covered in snow

Westminster Lodge covered in snow - Credit: Archant

FRUSTRATED motorists are still falling foul of zealous parking wardens as they try to use the new Westminster Lodge leisure centre in St Albans.

And it has led to accusations that the district council is exploiting and capitalising on a problem that it has created itself.

One father, who did not wish to be named, hit out after being ticketed trying to park to take his children to swimming lessons at Westminster Lodge on a Saturday morning.

He explained that he and many other motorists found there were no free parking bays in the car parks around Westminster Lodge on Saturday.

They parked as diligently as they could next to bays and away from verges to ensure traffic could pass but tickets were still issued.

The father said he had been told by a parking attendant that they had been instructed to target the car parks – even though the council, through their leisure contractors Everyone Active, were advertising the swimming classes which parents could not physically take their children to.

He went on: “The nearest parking was too far for a four year old to walk when they’re swimming as well.”

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He described the warden as “very polite and apologetic” and said he should have been commended for the way he acted in the understandable face of provocation from some.

But he added: “I and others booked the classes in good faith and the not unreasonable expectation we’d be able to actually take our children to them. If this is what we face, then it looks like that’s not the case.”

Mike Lovelady, the district council’s head of legal, democratic and regulatory services, said: “The car park in Verulamium Park is open to everyone whether they are users of the nearby leisure facilities or the park, or simply visiting and shopping in St Albans. It is operated on a first-come, first-served basis and pre-booking of classes at the new Westminster Lodge does not include any guarantee of parking.

“Parking bays are marked and signs clearly state that a penalty charge will be issued for failure to park within a marked bay. The parking bays are in place to assist drivers when parking and to maximise the amount of space available for everyone to park safely, particularly where spaces are at a premium.”

He went on: “Parking wardens, employed by our parking enforcement contractor, patrol the car park on a regular and appropriate basis to ensure these restrictions are followed. The council has not instructed our contractor to target drivers at Westminster Lodge car park or any other location.”

And he added: “We are aware of the increased demand for spaces that the new Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre is creating. Work is currently taking place to landscape the surrounding area and to provide additional parking spaces.”