FOREST residents are warning locals who go shopping in Gloucester to be aware of strict parking rules which has seen retail park customers hit with £100 fines recently.

Shaun Earl was hit with a £100 fine after spending around £800 while shopping at Dreams, Next and Costa for parking more than two hours at the Peel Centre in Gloucester.

Shaun says he parked at the retail park recently and visited Next, Costa and then Dreams and spent around £800 before heading home.

He was shocked to then receive a £100 fine in the post because he spent more than two hours shopping there.

“I showed that I was a genuine customer and the timestamps show that I was in the stores on site, but they still want money,” he said.

“Speaking to Dreams, they told me the old operator was reasonable and cancelled tickets where customers had just lost track of time.”

“It is easy to spend more than two hours in an entire retail park.”

However, Mr Earl claims the new operator, Ocean Parking, told him they do not care if people being fined are a genuine customer as the stores are not their client, Peel Centre is.

“Dreams were clearly fed up with the situation as it is losing them business it seemed like orders are being cancelled in riposte,” he said.

Mr Earl says he did not leave the retail park on foot which is a reason many other shoppers have been fined in the past.

“Just to clarify, I did not leave the retail park at any point,” he said.

“I did not know that part was a rule, I just do it as it seems the decent thing to do only use the parking if you are using the businesses.

“But the confusion gets worse. The parking company says that customers can stay more than two hours if one of the stores validates their parking, but the Dreams store said they were told to validate the parking of anyone in their store for more than two hours.

“So by being a customer at three separate businesses, I fell in the trap.”

Mr Earl is calling on the retail park and parking firm bosses to have a rethink over the rules.

He said once he managed to get through to the right person they sorted it out and cancelled it for him.

But he fears other legitimate users of that car park will be caught out.

“There’s a difference between what the shop managers understand about it and what the car parking company is saying,” he said.

“They’ve been told if someone is in the store for more than two hours they need to be verified so they don’t get a ticket.

“However, I was in a store for 90 minutes and they didn’t know I had been in another store.

“Why would you go into a shop and say, oh by the way, I’ve just come from this store and I’ve spent this amount of minutes there.

“There’s got to be more flexibility with these things. More people are probably getting punished than they are fending off. There’s more victims than offenders.

“The car park was practically empty when I went and that’s probably because of this.

“I can go to Monmouth, Gloucester or Bristol for shopping. It doesn’t matter to me but if I’m going to be targeted in Gloucester I’ll go somewhere else.”

Another woman who has been hit with a £100 fine twice for parking at the centre while Christmas shopping says she won’t pay and fears people with disabilities are being penalised.

Karen McKenzie Budd, 57, who lives near Corse, is calling on site owners Peel to reconsider their parking rules as the more shoppers are stung the more likely they are to go elsewhere to spend their money.

The rules changed in the summer and motorists who park there are only allowed a maximum stay of two hours.

And shoppers who drive there and leave the site on foot also face a £100 fine for doing so. “I have received two tickets in the last month,” Mrs McKenzie Budd said.

“One for being 11 minutes over the allotted time of two hours and one for ‘abusing parking privilege’ which I can only assume relates to me visiting both the Peel Centre, to go to Hobbycraft and Next and the Quays, to go to the toilet and cash point.

“I have absolutely no objection to paying for parking but £100 is unreasonable and unfair given the current charging schedules that operate across the rest of Gloucester.”

Mrs McKenzie Budd has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) a UK recognised disability that affects people’s behaviour.

And she fears other people with hidden disabilities such as hers are being impacted by the strict car park rules.

“I choose to park in a surface car park because I find the noise and echo of a multi-storey carpark difficult to manage,” she said.

“I suspect that there are many other people that have sensory issues that may stop them from using a multi-storey option as well as those that have anxiety about using such spaces.

“This clearly has not been considered by anyone in relation to the current offer.”

She said she had planned to deal with her parking ticket after the Christmas break.

But she was so incensed to have received a second fine she has written to all Gloucester city councillors and shops on the retail park about the issue.

“I wasn’t aware it was that there was a two hour limit the first time I parked there.

“I appealed and they didn’t even acknowledge what I’d written in my appeal. They just sent me back a whole lot of gobbledygook and legalese.

“For the second fine, I don’t even know why they sent me the ticket. I’d ignored the fact that they’d responded to the first ticket and thought I’d deal with it after Christmas and then I got the second one and I was utterly incensed.

“I don’t understand what their issue is. I was at Hobbycraft to get paper and ribbon to wrap up Christmas presents and in Next looking at stuff for my husband and daughter.

“I went across the road because I needed the loo and some cash. If you go out and you are caught short, what happens then? How can that be fair and reasonable?

“If they don’t want people to use their parking facility to go across, given that they own both, to me all of that just smacks of it being done deliberately to catch people out to make money.”

Mrs Mckenzie Budd says shoppers are going to avoid Gloucester if they continue to be hit with unreasonable fines of £100. “I just think it’s wrong,” she said. “£100? They don’t even put a ticket on your car.

“Hobbycraft has got a store in Cheltenham and the parking there is free.

“The only reason I go to the Peel Centre is to go into Next, Hobbycraft and occasionally I’ll pop into one of the other stores.”

She wrote to city councillors who told her the car park wasn’t anything to do with them. But she says its their constituents and the city’s economy who will be affected by the fines.

“Given there are empty shops already in Gloucester Quays, it’s people that live in their wards that will be impacted by this. They have made their terms and conditions so difficult to follow that they have effectively set all the consumers up to be penalised.

“I’m quite capable of fighting my corner but it’s not just about me it’s about everyone. There are lots of people out there who aren’t capable of doing it.

“It makes me really angry. I absolutely hate injustice.”

Peel Retail Parks and Ocean Parking have not responded to a request for comment.