LETTER: Parking fine ruined my birthday

I am writing this as a warning to people coming into the town centre in the evening and wanting to park their cars.

Friday, 7th April 2017, 12:00 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:11 pm

For my recent birthday my family invited me for a celebratory meal in a town centre restaurant.

I don’t like to drive into town at night since becoming a septuagenarian but as I was asked to pick up two people (one with a plaster cast on his leg and one who is not in the best of health) I agreed.

After dropping off one at the restaurant door I was advised to drive round to the donut car park as opposed to parking on the street. I was under the impression that parking would be free after 7pm.

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However, after parking at 7.45pm I checked the notice board only to find that parking is free from 8pm. I was devastated as I had no change. I was in a dilemma - if I walked back to the restaurant to see if my family could provide me with some change, it would have been 8pm by the time I got back. It was a cold, wet and windy night to make matters worse. So, I thought surely a traffic enforcement officer wouldn’t be so mean as to give me a penalty charge notice (PCN) just 15 minutes before parking becomes free anyway. Wrong. Yes, I got a PCN fixed to my windscreen (which incidentally I didn’t find until two days later).

This of course completely spoiled my birthday treat. It was suggested that I should appeal, so I wrote a nice letter of apology, explaining the ‘catch 22’ situation I had been in and asking for some compassion.

However, I received no compassion whatsoever and my fine has not been cancelled.

I think that Chesterfield Council is very shortsighted and by these unfair evening charges it does not help local businesses who need customers to come into town. I expect the council will say that they give free parking to people who live within the borough but what about all those who live just out of the borough, ie North East Derbyshire residents who bring a lot of revenue into the town centre venues and businesses? 
I for one will go to out of town places in future where parking is free.

Christine M. Smith