A BARRIER preventing drivers entering Inverness’s Strothers Lane car park would help address problems with the site, a driver has claimed.
Kirsty Wright is just the latest disgruntled motorist to contact the Highland News after receiving a £100 charge for breaching the rules at the plot operated by Smart Parking.
She parked at the car park for just over 20 minutes early last month but insists it was not at all clear that she needed to pay.
She was therefore stunned to receive a letter days later stating she was being charged £100.
"It was dark at the time so none of the signs were particularly easy to see," she said. "This was at about 8pm and because of my experience of other car parks in Inverness, I really believed I didn’t have to pay at that time of night.
"There was nothing at all I could see that made it clear that this was one that charged 24 hours a day."
The 22-year-old marketing executive from Milton of Leys said she was so surprised to receive the fine that she revisited the car park to check what she had missed.
"I still didn’t see the parking signage they referred to," she said.
"On approach the signage was not visible to the driver, none of the parking signs were lit up and so couldn’t be read in the dark. And even where a light was provided, this wasn’t operational and was a long way from where my car was parked."
Miss Wright appealed against the fine on those grounds but her arguments were all rejected by Smart Parking, who said it was her responsibility to ensure she adhered to their regulations.
"There are several signs situated around the car park that advise of the terms and conditions and we can confirm all signage is BPA (British Parking Association) approved," they told her.
"Please be aware all signs are set to a standardised height and written in clear and intelligible language, as per the BPA requirements.
"There is no ambiguous language or jargon on any of the Smart Parking signs at this site."
Despite this, Miss Wright is still refusing to pay, claiming conditions in the car park mean it is impossible to know what the terms and conditions are.
She added: "If you look at the Rose Street car park they have a barrier up there that means you don’t get in without taking a ticket and you clearly have to pay before you leave. That would be a much better way of doing things at Strothers Lane, just making much clearer what is expected.
"I have no problem paying for parking but here it was all but impossible for me to know that I had to pay a charge."
Trading standards say they are continuing to look into all complaints the Highland News forward on to them, which range from people being fined for entering the car park and not actually parking, and others being fined after entering their registration number incorrectly into the ticket machine. Manager David Mackenzie said he could not comment on what action might be taken at this stage, but added: "The response we’ve had has been fantastic and really helpful to us in terms of being able to take things forward."