A BOROUGH council transport spokesman has called for a boycott of a town centre car park after more than 700 complaints.
Cllr Christine James, briefholder for transport and infrastructure, has urged people to avoid the privately-owned Weymouth Old Town car park, behind Brewers Quay.
It follows the latest complaint, from a 78-year-old Weymouth woman who was fined £100 after spending 17 minutes in the car park trying to get the ticket machine to operate.
The car park is managed by Parking Eye Management and uses CCTV cameras to record number plates of the cars Cllr James criticised the company for using “bully boy” tactics when it fines people, and said since it opened in April 2011, the council had received more than 700 complaints.
Cllr James said: “Any charges imposed on motorists are supposed to be relevant to what has happened, and this isn’t.
“Since this car park opened in 2011, we have had more than 700 complaints about it, and it reflects badly on Weymouth.
“We have asked the company if we can run it on its behalf, and it refused.
“All I can advise is for people to not use the car park. We have tried to have meetings with the company but we haven’t. I personally think what they are doing is quite despicable.”
Rita Rabbitt drove into town with her 85-year-old husband Jim to attend the Seafood Festival on July 12, when she tried to use the car park.
Mrs Rabbitt said the machine was confusing and when she went to purchase a ticket she inadvertently put the wrong registration plate number in.
She said: “When I got the ticket and started walking back to the car, it looked like I had put the wrong letter in for my registration plate so I thought I’d leave the car park as I was worried I’d get fined.
“The machine was so confusing I had to wait for a member of the public to show me how to use it to get a refund.
“I was only in the car park for 17 minutes. It’s a big car park. I was a long way from the machine but I left as soon as I could because I didn’t want to get fined.”
Nearly a month later on August 5, she received a letter from Parking Eye Management telling her she was fined £100 but if she paid in 10 days she would only have to pay £60.
Mrs Rabbitt appealed the charge over the phone and by letter, with both rejected. She has now paid the £60.
She has warned other members of the public, and described the company’s tactics as “frightening” and “threatening.”
She added: “I was staggered when I received the letter - I thought it was very threatening.
The way they worded it and the fact if you don’t pay within 10 days the fine is £100 is quite frightening.
“It’s quite a horrible experience to go through. I think other members of the public should be aware of it. A lot of people my age are not computer literate and may not be very observant so they should know about this.”
A spokesman for Parking Eye said: “Car park users enter into a contract – as per the signage on site – to pay the appropriate amount for the duration of their visit or to not exceed free parking limits.
“A parking charge becomes payable if the terms and conditions are not adhered to. A reasonable grace period is always offered that is sufficient for normal usage of the car park in question.
“We operate an audited appeals process and encourage people to appeal if they feel there are mitigating circumstances.”