A “smash and grab” plan to impose automatic £60 fines on drivers who flout the rules in a private car park at Ilkley Station has run into opposition from councillors.
Ilkley parish councillors are calling on Bradford Council to reject plans by Lancashire-based parking management company Parking Eye for automatic number plate recognition cameras at the Station Plaza car park, Railway Road.
One parish councillor accused the management company of treating Ilkley as a “cash cow” for generating money from parking fines.
They fear unsuspecting motorists who use the car park – owned by Retail Plus General Partners Ltd, of Birmingham – to drop off commuters heading for trains, could be hit by the fines.
But a surveyor, commissioned by Parking Eye over the planning application, says there is clear evidence of abuse by visitors to the privately owned customer-only car park, adjoining the Station Plaza retail units.
Ilkley Parish Council’s plans committee debated the plan and has recommended the local authority should refuse planning permission.
Parish councillor, Paul Kitching, told the Gazette: “On contacting Parking Eye, the councillors were told that Parking Eye’s proposed cameras would automatically record car number plates entering and leaving the car park and that the maximum parking time limit would be two hours – and that the fine imposed for exceeding this period would be £60.
“But that’s not all. It also appears that if a vehicle enters the carpark, say for a ‘drop-off’ or ‘pick-up’ at the rail station – and no retail purchase is made – the Parking Eye cameras and system will be aware of this fact and promptly generate a whopping £60 parking fine too.”
Coun Kitching called on others to oppose what he described as a “smash-and-grab attitude”.
Planning documents showing the design for signs in the car park, however, warn of a £100 fine.
Councillor Stephen Butler, who works as a solicitor, said the legality of such parking fines was ‘questionable’ and that invoices issued by the operator may not be possible to enforce.
The car park has been the subject of complaint in the past when a parking enforcement company was accused of being over-zealous by fining a driver who had parked slightly over parking bay markings to avoid broken glass.
Parking Eye had not responded to requests to comment at the time of going to press.