A POPULAR beauty spot is the biggest hotspot for illegal parking in the city, with thousands of fines dished out to drivers.

Dog walkers and the elderly have been among those slammed with almost 2,000 fines for parking at Stanmer Park last year- making it the worst place for parking in Brighton.

A total of 1,683 penalties were dished out by One Parking Solution for illegal parking at the council-run site between January 1 and December 31 2020.

Earlier this year, the council was asked to stop using the parking company accused of slapping disabled drivers with £100 at the beauty spot.

Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh, who had called on Brighton and Hove City Council to end the company's contract, today blamed the council's "lack of empathy" for the soaring fines.

She said: "As with the current debacle over the number of fines being issued to drivers who are inadvertently going into the bus lane at Valley Gardens, poor signage and the council's lack of empathy towards drivers were the issues at Stanmer Park.

"Two of the car parks at Stanmer Park were closed during most of 2020 and so people parked on the grass verges.

"As soon as the car parks opened, the verge parking mostly stopped - and the grass has recovered.

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"The thing that most gets me is that Brighton and Hove City Council only received 10 per cent of the parking fine revenue.

"The private parking company made all the money.

"Upsetting residents and visitors for such small sums of money during Covid shows a certain mentality, I think."

It comes after The Argus was contacted by several angry residents who had been hit with tickets for parking within the grounds at Stanmer Park during the coronavirus pandemic.

Charges were introduced at the park in April, with prices ranging from £1 for an hour to £6.50 for 11 hours.

Visitors are not allowed to park on the grass, park roadways, verges or pavements.

However, in 2020, two of the car parks were closed, visitors instead abandoning their cars on the grass verge, resulting in a rise in fines.

As well as the introduction of paid parking earlier this year, a new layout was also introduced, with more spaces placed away from the 18th Century designed landscape.

Access to Stanmer Village was also restricted to pedestrians, cyclists, authorised permit holders and Blue Badge holders only.

The road layby opposite Stanmer House had also been reduced in size, and the council has reaffirmed that this space can only be used for the drop off and collection of visitors.

The city council said the measures have been designed to protect the heritage of the Grade-II listed Historic Park and Garden, which is currently undergoing a £5.1 million restoration project.

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: "All the parking schemes we have run in Stanmer Park – past and present – have had signage that conforms to national regulations.

“There is an appeals process for anyone who feels they have been given a parking fine unfairly.

“We had to improve the situation at Stanmer Park because inappropriate parking was causing problems with congestion and access problems for emergency vehicles.

“The parking schemes address these problems and provide income to manage and maintain the park."