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Wincanton Mayor calls in police over ‘illegal’ ticketing by district

By Western Gazette - North Dorset  |  Posted: February 14, 2013

Wincanton councillor angry at parking tickets issued in a car park which is free. from left, Dora Hibberd, Jim Eastaugh, Richard D'Arcy, Sam Atherton and Colin Winder Mayor of Wincanton

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A BLAZING row over parking in Wincanton has resulted in the town’s mayor seeking police action over alleged “illegal” ticketing.

Mayor of Wincanton Colin Winder contacted police after learning enforcement officers had slapped a number of parking tickets on vehicles in the town’s ‘free’ car parks.

Wincanton Town Council agreed to pay more than £72,000 to South Somerset District Council last year to ensure that the town’s major car parks remain free of charge.

The three-year deal ensured no charges would be introduced in the Carrington Way, Churchfields and Memorial Hall car parks.

Mr Winder accused the district council of breaching the contract – and sought police advice.

He said: “When I heard parking tickets had been issued in our free car parks I blew my top. I consider the district council to have acted illegally and committed an offence.

“They have come along and charged people in our car parks without informing us. I think that is illegal.”

The contract signed by the respective councils states it “does not cover enforcement costs” – despite each of the car parks having a specified maximum stay limit ranging from 30 minutes to 72 hours.

However, the agreement states the town council does have the option to purchase enforcement measures “on an hourly basis”.

Any net income from such enforcement, following deduction for administration costs, would “be paid back to the town council”.

A district council spokesman said: “We do not actively enforce the free car parks around the district but do so ‘on spec’ as spot checks.

“The car parks may well be ‘free’, but this does not mean that the regulations in place do not have to be complied with.

“A meeting will be held to clarify the position with the town council.”

The district council has since pledged to cancel all of the tickets issued.

Mr Winder added: “This shows they have acknowledged they have done something wrong.

“We want the district council to come along and listen to what we have to say, because at the moment they are not listening.”

Neighbourhood beat sergeant Dean Hamilton confirmed they had received a complaint from Mr Winder.

Police will now look to liaise with the district council over the issue.

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