WALKERS have blasted parking fines in a popular beauty spot as “opportunistic profiteering” by a private company employed by the council.

The Argus has been contacted by several angry residents who have been hit with £100 fines for parking within the grounds at Stanmer Park during the coronavirus pandemic.

Car parking company One Parking Solution is responsible for managing parking and signage at the site on behalf of Brighton and Hove City Council.

READ MORE: Brighton father says £100 fine at Stanmer Park is 'unfair'

As the first designated car park on the left-hand side on the way into the site has been closed due to building work, many people have instead been parking in areas away from the access road when other car parks were full.

Those who have received fines say they were unaware of the rules regarding parking as the signage is “small, unclear and inadequate”.

The Argus: Parking signage in Stanmer ParkParking signage in Stanmer Park

Mike Elrick from Hurstpierpoint visited the park for the first time with his wife Sue on Sunday, January 3, before the third national lockdown.

The 75-year-old said: “Our walking has been pretty extensive recently so we thought we would try Stanmer Park.

"It was difficult to find a parking space but one did finally appear and we parked in what appeared to be a well-used parking bay adjacent to the access road. There were no yellow lines.

“As we began walking we became aware of ‘temporary unofficial’ type signs restricting parking to authorised bays, but we assumed the muddy areas with multiple tyre marks where we had parked were such bays.”

On returning to his car, Mr Elrick noticed a lot of vehicles with tickets and was surprised to discover he had also been given a £100 Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

The Argus: The access road into the park, and areas to the right of the road where people have received fines for parking onThe access road into the park, and areas to the right of the road where people have received fines for parking on

He said: “As far as I’m concerned it’s just opportunistic money-making.

“There are dozens of these signs which say ‘Parking is permitted...’ and the exceptions are in small print.

“I’m estimating there were about 30 or 40 cars parked up the drive – that’s £4,000 on one flying visit. It’s very disappointing the council is letting this happen.”

John Marchant from Norfolk Square, Brighton, also received a fine after he parked on a verge to the right-hand side of the access road into the park.

He said he parked there as two car parks at the site were closed and the other was full, and there were cars already parked in the space.

He contacted the city council to challenge the fine, received on September 27 last year, but has since paid the £130, including admin fees.

The Argus: Mike Elrick, left, warning a member of the public about the parking restrictionsMike Elrick, left, warning a member of the public about the parking restrictions

Mr Marchant said: “It was such an absurd situation we did not appeal.

“It seems One Parking Solution are flouting the rules left, right and centre – you’re supposed to have a clear, legible noticeboard at the entrance, which they don't.

“I think it’s pretty clear they don’t want people to actually understand their signage, which is small, low down and some distance off the road, at the rear of the verge. You actually have to park your car to read the signs.

“The signs state it is ‘private’ land, but signage coming into the park clearly states it is Brighton and Hove City Council land and I’m sure most people would take it to be public land.

“We don’t have a car but during the pandemic we rented one to take our daughter out for some fresh air.

“It’s very cynical, especially when we are supposed to be getting out for some air when we can during this crisis. For someone to be profiting from that I think is awful.”

The Argus: Cars parked beside the access road into Stanmer Park, where many people have received finesCars parked beside the access road into Stanmer Park, where many people have received fines

Stephanie Lyons, who received a fine on October 17, described “falling into a trap”.

She said: “One Parking Solution is employed by the council to deal with ‘inconsiderate parking’.

“What I think is inconsiderate is closing the car parks in a public park where it is currently officially free to park and then employing a private company strongly motivated to catch people out, who litter the roadside with unclear signs in small print about designated car parks and terms and conditions, but no recognisable large 'P' or unambiguous wording such as ‘No Parking’.”

Another walker, who did not wish to be named, visited Stanmer Park on Saturday and said he saw several people “all stood there with tickets in their hands”.

The Argus: One of the One Parking Solution signsOne of the One Parking Solution signs

He said: “There must have been ten or 11 cars and every single one of them had a yellow £100 ticket. It must have been going on all day.

“In the middle of a pandemic, when for some people that would have been a real treat to get out for some fresh air and exercise – and a lot of people are in financial difficulty – to come back to a £100 fine for walking their dog I think is disgusting.

"If it had been me I would contest it but many people won't.”

A father from Hove who visited the park on Sunday with his children and received a fine said: "The spaces people are parking in are not grass verges - there are some concrete disabled bays at the side of the road, and the spaces next to it look legit.

"The signs suggest you can park there so long as you're not parking inconsiderately. It's very misleading.

"We've been stuck inside all week with the kids home-schooling, and then got stung with a fine for taking them out." 

Signs in the park state: "Parking is permitted for vehicles parked in a considerate manner within a designated car park.

"No parking is permitted at any time outside of a designated car park and/or in the access roads, this applies to grass verges and/or pavements."

The Argus: Stanmer ParkStanmer Park

Brighton and Hove City Council told The Argus it receives ten per cent of the PCNs issued in Stanmer Park.

A spokesman said: “The council is the freeholder of the verges and roadways in Stanmer Park and from a parking perspective, the roads are considered private land when it comes to enforcement.

“The £100 Penalty Charge Notice, of which the council gets ten per cent, is the industry standard for parking enforcement on private land detailed within British Parking Association’s Code of Practice and is reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days of issue.”

One Parking Solution was contacted for a statement.