A ROTHESAY motorist has warned her fellow island drivers to be on their guard in Greenock after being caught out by new parking rules at the town’s Oak Mall shopping centre.
Ursula Eames was hit with a fine after she took an elderly friend to the centre earlier this month and failed to notice that even disabled badge holders must now pay to use the mall’s car parks.
“I had no idea I’d broken the rules until I got a letter in the post telling me I was liable for a £150 penalty,” Ursula told us.
“The letter said representations must be made within ten days to a civil enforcement company in Liverpool, so I wrote to them, and to the Oak Mall’s management, but I haven’t had a response from either.
“Subsequently I found out they’re charging disabled badge holders £1 an hour – which is stated on signs, but not at the disabled bays.
“I also found out that disabled badge holders have to walk from the car park to the centre of the Oak Mall to buy a ticket for the car park.
“The Oak Mall’s website says there are four disabled spaces but doesn’t say badge holders have to pay to use them.
Despite her concerns, Ursula eventually paid the fine – reduced to £75 if payment was made promptly – but the experience left her determined to alert other Bute drivers who might have cause to use the Oak Mall’s car parks.
“The fines are excessive, and I think it’s been done very sneakily,” she continued.
“Apparently the Shopmobility service at the centre have had quite a few complaints from people who have been fined without realising there was a new system in operation.”
The Oak Mall’s website states that all the centre’s car parks have a fee of £1 per hour for a maximum of four hours, and that “ thereafter a fine will be imposed by the parking company controlling the car parks”.
Under a separate ‘disabled access’ heading, mention is made of four spaces for disabled shoppers in the Hunter Place car park.
Oak Mall manager Claire Jefcoate told The Buteman: “The current car park management system has been in place since April 2010, and there are signs that clearly state there is no free parking in either of the two car parks owned by the Oak Mall.
“There are Shopmobility facilities situated in Upper Clyde Square, and they have six parking spaces in King Street which are free for disabled users, if they are registered with Inverclyde Council on Disability.”