Tourism chiefs step in to end car park saga

A TOURISM body has stepped into the row over a controversial ticketing policy at one of Whitby’s busiest car parks.

The long-running saga has seen tourists and locals hit with big fines by wardens in the railway station car park next to the Co-op in Langborne Road.

There have been numerous complaints about the way traffic management firm LDK Group operate on behalf of Northern Rail, which owns the car park.

The Welcome to Yorkshire Coast Tourism Industry Advisory Board met recently to discuss the problems which it says was brought to their attention following publicity in the Whitby Gazette and it is now monitoring the situation.

Charles Forgan who is a member of the board and is publicity officer for Whitby’s Captain Cook Memorial Museum spearheaded a campaign in 2008, along with councillors and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill, against a previous firm of clampers in the car park which they believed was driving away tourists.

The firm was later withdrawn from the car park by Northern Rail.

But Mr Forgan fears LDK’s actions are damaging Whitby’s tourist trade as people issued with tickets are required to pay a £90 fine, unless they pay it within 14 days when it will be reduced to £60.

He said: “At the meeting I referred to the three complaints which featured in the Whitby Gazette and feared history could be repeating itself and that once again a car parking firm was not so much managing the car park, but might be exploiting and maximising a honey pot opportunity to extract fines.

“The clamper was inflicting actual damage to Whitby’s reputation, and I fear the same is going to happen again.”

Meanwhile another tourist has been hit with a fine in the car park over the Easter holidays which he feels was unfair.

Paul Harvey and his family, of Acklam, had been camping in Whitby overnight and needed to buy a drink for his son so he could take his medication which prevents him having fits, but did not have change for the car park.

As he went into Whitby Co-op to get change, he returned to his car six minutes later to find a £90 ticket on his vehicle.

Whitby MP Robert Goodwill has vowed to represent people who believe they have been unfairly treated by LDK.

He said: “I urge parking companies to show a little bit of common sense and latitude, and bear in mind that people may need change, and this sometimes means going into shops to buy something.

“If anyone gets ticketed and feels that it’s unfair, bear in mind it’s a civil fine and can be challenged, unlike police fines, I would be more than happy to represent anyone who feels they have been unfairly treated.”

Joe Osborne managing director of LDK said his firm will consider reviewing the cost of fines it issues and may look at extending the amount of time wardens give people before issuing a ticket.

He said he will also meet with Mr Goodwill and Mr Forgan to discuss the way forward and added they will consider any genuine appeals against parking tickets if people can send documentation.

A spokesman for Northern Rail said it is reviewing the situation.

l Anyone wishing to seek help resolving parking ticket problems from Whitby station car park, can reach Mr Goodwill at his office on (01723) 365656.