Anger over fines for parking in Frome 'free' zone
Confusion surrounds the parking situation on Welshmill Road, Frome, after a number of drivers found their cars slapped with parking tickets, despite believing there were no restrictions in place.
Car owners who returned to their vehicles last Thursday afternoon were shocked to discover they had been fined.
Since then no other tickets have been issued and many drivers have paid £6 a day in town centre car parks for fear they will be fined again.
People who work in the town have, for many years, enjoyed free parking along the road where there is space for about 50 cars, one of the few places in the town where it is possible to park for free.
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In April the possibility of introducing charges in the area was mooted, but Somerset County Council told the Somerset Standard that there would be no changes to parking restrictions on the road.
On-street parking powers were taken over by the county council in June.
There is a sign at one end of the road, largely obscured by branches, which says parking is restricted to four hours, but drivers said it was not visible and that there are no other signs along the road.
Leigh Beauchamp, who works in the town, contacted the Standard after receiving the fine and said he had never seen any signs about parking.
Mr Beauchamp said: "I have worked in Frome for ten years and regularly park along Welshmill, but have never been given a parking ticket before.
"I thought it was free to park there, like everyone else who parks along there believed.
"I spoke to someone else who had been given a fine and they were as shocked as I was.
"Someone from the county council needs to make it clear what the restrictions are.
"But what is really confusing is that since then no one has been fined, so what is going on?"
Another driver, who did not wish to be named, said she was being forced to pay for car parks as she was worried about getting fined.
She said: "I can't afford to pay £6 every day to park but I also can't afford to be fined, what am I supposed to do?
"I live in Wiltshire and Frome is one of the most expensive places in the area to park – Trowbridge enjoys an element of free parking, why can't Frome?"
An annual parking ticket for the Market Yard car park and Merchants Barton costs £441, with North Parade £269.
When the Standard contacted the county council for clarification on the parking rules on the road, it said all the restrictions had been suspended for the foreseeable future.
A spokeswoman added: "If drivers believe the penalty is incorrect they should appeal.
"The council is aware that some minor changes are required to the parking orders and these will be made by way of an amendment in the next few months."