Clamped, yet we parked after 6pm

PUBLISHED: 09:49 13 February 2008 | UPDATED: 21:12 26 October 2009

The main car park sign near the entrance.

The main car park sign near the entrance.

Sir - My wife and I regularly attend the 7pm choir practice at St Etheldreda s Church in Old Hatfield. For many years we have parked in the Salisbury Square car park. On Wednesday, January 30, we parked there as usual. The sign at the entrance indicate

Sir - My wife and I regularly attend the 7pm choir practice at St Etheldreda's Church in Old Hatfield.

For many years we have parked in the Salisbury Square car park.

On Wednesday, January 30, we parked there as usual.

The sign at the entrance indicates that parking restrictions are lifted at 6pm.

On entering the car park it was busier than usual and the only space available was covered by a white van with both doors open and no occupants.

I parked in a space which I assumed was free, as it was past business hours.

We left our car and my automatic adjusting clock showed it was 6.55pm.

At 8.15pm we returned to find the car clamped and a notice stuck to the windscreen.

A passer-by kindly phoned the clampers for us.

They arrived about 20 minutes later in a white van, which I am sure was the van seen on our arrival in the car park. They demanded the sum of £193.88 to release the clamps.

I had to walk to a cashpoint, the first at Spar which was closed. Then I walked to the station, where I was able to get the cash.

On my return they took it and gave me a receipt which I have retained together with the notice which was stuck on my car.

I did explain that I assumed that parking restrictions were shown to be lifted at 6pm. They said it was from 7pm.

Naturally we were very upset. For the sake of five minutes we were given this exorbitant and excessive penalty.

The clampers should have their notice more prominently displayed and at the entrance to the car park where the council signs is.

We feel that not only was it excessive, but unjustified!

Do they have a right to impose such penalties? And is Welwyn Hatfield Council aware of this practice?

On top of this they impose a further charge of £17.50 if one makes an appeal, (refundable if successful). As a pensioner on a modest income, I really cannot afford to take the risk!

A Bullard, Hatfield.

Editor's note: We have brought this matter to the council's attention and await its response with interest.

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