The probe was launched by council chiefs this week after they confirmed that Parking Eye, which operates the Priory Shopping Centre car park on Bridge Place, had not obtained planning permission to erect ANPR cameras which snap vehicles entering and leaving the facility.
The problem, says Colin Tawn, who revealed the planning blunder after submitting an FOI request to Bassetlaw District Council, is that the pictures taken by the cameras do not ‘provide any evidence that a vehicle has even been parked there and for how long’.
He says this has resulted in motorists dropping people off at the shopping centre or even entering the car park with punctures being slapped with hefty fines of up to £100, stirring outrage amongst drivers.
But the manager of the Priory Shopping Centre, David Aunins, has defended Parking Eye’s car parking management, which he says is ‘safe and secure’ and offers excellent value with the lowest charges for parking in the town centre.
Mr Tawn, who is now heading a campaign to get the cameras removed and fines refunded, said: “This issue makes a mockery of planning laws and must be dealt with. Parking Eye is quite happy to ignore legitimate protests from motorists who have been snared by this scam.
“But I would urge anyone who has been issued an unfair fine to appeal against it. The more people we have on board, the quicker something can be done about the fact that motorists are being bullied into paying unfair fines.”
Karen Mudford, from Retford, said: “I used to park here to visit the M&S in Worksop but I wouldn’t risk it again after being fined. It’s not ideal for the town’s economy.”
A spokesman for Bassetlaw District Council confirmed that a planning enforcement officer was investigating the matter, but would not comment any further while the investigation was underway.
Mr Aunins added: “Car parking management at The Priory Shopping Centre is required to ensure the car park is kept safe and secure, and that there are spaces available for genuine customers.”
A Worksop woman, who did not wish to be named, said: “I don’t shop in Worksop any more after my family were hit by two £100 fines for picking someone up. We now go to Meadowhall where it’s free and we don’t get pictures taken of us.
“It’s invasive and you have to mess around inputing your registration into the machine, which you will get fined for again if you get it wrong.”