A DRIVER was “astounded” to receive a £100 fine for parking near a beauty spot where car parks remain closed.

Paul Cartwright visited Stanmer Park near Brighton on Saturday with his family to get some fresh air.

The 52-year-old from Saltdean said two of the car parks were closed so he parked at the side of the road behind a long line of cars.

He said: “The car park on the left hand side was completely full and there were many cars parked opposite on the grass verge under the trees. It’s about halfway down on the road before you get to the house.

The Argus: Cars parked on the side of the road at Stanmer Park on SaturdayCars parked on the side of the road at Stanmer Park on Saturday

“As you get down towards the house there are two car parks which were both closed. I don’t recall there being any signs up about not parking on the verge.

“I just could not believe that when I got back there was a ticket for £100, which is very steep. It seems unfair the council are enforcing these parking restrictions at a time where there are so few places open.

“Like a lot of other people we’re struggling for money at the moment and it just seems a bit mean.”

The Argus: "It just feels a bit mean""It just feels a bit mean"

Paul, who had gone for a long walk around Stanmer Park with his wife Mandy and their ten-year-old daughter, said he walked back to his car and then drove back up the path to collect them.

He said: “I went to collect my daughter as she was very tired and there were cars parked everywhere, as the two main car parks were closed.

“It was hard to see where the car parks finished and so-called illegal parking began.

“They have put a temporary car park by the entrance but it’s just not obvious, and we always try to park closer as we have a ten-year-old.

“These are exceptional times and it feels like we’re being penalised for going out for fresh air and exercise.”

The Argus: Two of the car parks were closedTwo of the car parks were closed

Paul, who works as a marketing manager, intends to appeal against the parking fine, but said he is not getting his hopes up.

He added: “I’d understand if people were parking in the middle of the sitting area, but it was just at the side of the road.

“People want to get out and I just think the council needs to be a bit more tolerant.”

But a spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said parking enforcement was in place along the roadway at Stanmer Park to prevent parked vehicles causing an obstruction to emergency vehicles trying to reach Stanmer village.

He said: “For this reason, we have not relaxed this essential enforcement during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Parking is allowed in designated car parks only, as stated on the signs throughout the area.

“Car parking areas do become full with parked vehicles and may be closed at times for various reasons. This does not affect the restrictions in the roadway at Stanmer Park and this cannot be used for parking.”

He said drivers who chose to park in the roadway did so at their own risk of getting a ticket.

The spokesman added: “Some parking areas have been temporarily closed to allow for work to be carried out for improvements. To lessen this reduction of spaces, we have created more temporary designated car park spaces in other areas.”