PARKING TICKETS have increased by more than 500% since the new check-in, check-out machines have been added to a popular car park four months ago.
Since the new payment option was added to Carnival Pool car park, parking fines have soared significantly.
The introduction of traffic wardens in the borough has seen parking tickets soar from 2,000 per year in 2016-2017 to nearly 14,000 in 2018-2019. And if trends continue, then more than 16,000 tickets will be issued in the current financial year.
Last year, there was a significant easing of parking restrictions in the town centre to accommodate Christmas shoppers, which may have affected the data for Carnival Pool car park.
However, since the new check-in and check-out system was implemented in Carnival Pool car park in June 2019, 497 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) have been issued.
In the two years before these machines were installed, a total of 457 PCNs were issued from the car park when it opened in June 2017.
The average number of tickets issued in the car park before the check-in and check-out option existed was 19 tickets per month.
Since the new payment option has been added, the average number of tickets issued is 124.
The Wokingham Paper has been inundated with calls from residents, complaining that the new check-in, check-out system does not work properly in the car park, and that parking tickets are on the rise because of this.
Currently, the check-in, check-out tickets issued in Carnival Pool car park state: “Place this side up inside windscreen”, indicating to the driver they should display their ticket in their car.
However, Wokingham Borough Council say this is not the case, and that drivers do not need to display their ticket due to a number plate recognition system in place.
A Winnersh resident who did not wish to be named said: “They’re issuing tickets in that car park left, right and centre”.
“I was in there the other day and four tickets had been given out. There was a poor 83-year-old woman crying because she had been given a parking ticket for no reason.
“There was another lady whose parking ticket was valid until 2pm, but at 1.45pm she had been issued a ticket.
“I’ve emailed the council about a ticket issued to me two weeks ago and they haven’t responded,” they alleged.
Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for Highways and Transport said: “We used to operate a pay on exit system at Carnival Pool car park but the barriers were often vandalised so users could leave without paying. As councils cannot use automatic number plate recognition, and therefore CCTV for enforcement, fewer Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were issued.
“Our new pay on entry system installed in June means we can now patrol and issue PCNs where appropriate. Since then, 92% of the PCNs issued have been for overstay on fixed time period tickets – people not returning to their vehicle in time.
“Our local businesses rely on adequate parking options. By enforcing penalties, we discourage customer overstays, freeing up spaces for local shoppers, encouraging footfall in our town centre.”
Paul Fishwick, Liberal Democrat shadow executive lead on Highways and Transport said: “It is now more than 4 months since the new system was introduced and these figures are shocking. They clearly indicate that something is wrong with the system that has been put in place.
“The Council must act quickly to understand why there has been such a dramatic increase in Penalty Charge Notices issued and fix the problem as a matter of urgency, as this is not the way to treat local residents and visitors to Wokingham Town where there is a need to attract more customers, not distract them.”