Resident's anger over parking issues at Stanborough Park

Bins were set alight in Stanborough Park in Welwyn Garden City.

Bins were set alight in Stanborough Park in Welwyn Garden City. - Credit: Danny Loo

A visitor to Stanborough Park claims she and her mother were discriminated against for not possessing a mobile phone.

Wendy Brook claims the ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) parking system at the park can end up proving complicated and expensive. 

She had driven to Stanborough Park last week with her disabled mother, who has a valid Blue Badge and is in her eighties.

But when they got there the office to validate their parking was closed, while the details on an adjacent notice board said Blue Badge holders could validate their parking by calling a number outside opening hours. 

Wendy said: “This made me very angry as neither my mum nor myself have a mobile phone. This is discrimination as only Blue Badge holders with a phone can visit the park. 

“I do not only speak for myself about frustration with the parking. There was considerable confusion around the pay machine when I was there.

"People were trying to pay with apps and mobile banking and at least one person left in frustration as their banking details were not accepted by the machine."

Most Read

Wendy and her mother have both been frustrated and angry at the expensive and overly complicated system that excludes people from visiting their local amenity. 

“My mum's precious outing was ruined by the stress and the time it took to try and sort the parking out. The whole thing could be so much simpler,” Wendy said.

She added: “Since the visit my mum has been very sad that we can't just pop to Stanborough anymore. I was angry enough to do something about it. In the end we ended up receiving a £60 parking fine which was more stress.”

Wendy’s father has also received a parking fine after failing to validate their Blue Badge.

“In my case this means that I cannot visit my local amenity with my mum who has very limited mobility and enjoys the park hugely and has done so for many years. When I spoke to my dad about this, he told me that he hasn't been able to visit Stanborough with my mum for some time as neither of them has a phone. This is so sad,” she said. 

Wendy has subsequently succeeded in getting Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council to overturn her parking fines.

A spokesperson for WHBC said: “We’re really sorry that Wendy and her family have had such a frustrating experience at Stanborough Park. One of our priorities is to provide green spaces for all our communities to enjoy and it’s disappointing to hear that hasn’t been the case for her and her family. We have confirmed with GLL, who manage the site on our behalf, that the signs are being updated to make it clearer what the options are for people who do not have phones.”

Emily Nicholls, general manager for outdoor facilities at GLL, who manage Stanborough, told Wendy: “I sincerely apologise for the need to have a mobile phone to register for free parking and fully understand this may not be possible for all users. 

“We are in the process of updating our on-site signage to aid users who may not have a mobile phone.” 

The ANPR system for parking that is available at the park is complicated and expensive for some. 

The ANPR system for parking that is available at the park is complicated and expensive for some. - Credit: Archant/Gopika Madhu

Wendy fumed: “What on Earth is the reason for installing such an expensive and overly complicated system that excludes people from visiting their local amenity? It is unfair and discriminatory and will discourage people from visiting the park.  

“There are simpler systems available or employ someone to collect payment - much cheaper than installing ANPR - or perhaps parking there could just be free - how nice that would be for people? Please reconsider the parking system currently in place at Stanborough.” 

A spokesperson from GLL told the WHT: “We are sorry if some customers are having problems with their parking at Stanborough Lakes. 

“Since June 2021, Gemini Parking Solutions have managed car park payments and customers are able to pay by phone, app, or card at the machine. The first 20 minutes are free then charged from £1.50 per hour for non-residents and £1.50 per 24 hours for residents. For convenience, regular visitors can register their number plate online for automatic payments.  

“Blue badge users park for free and are able to register their vehicle by phone on arrival. Registration information is provided on signage in the Blue Badge bays – but staff are present on North Side Car Park (next to Splashlands) to assist.

"More information is available at: https://www.better.org.uk/leisure-centre/welwyn-hatfield/stanborough-park-water-sports-centre/facilities”