PARK here at your peril – this street has “earned” a Yorkshire council around £50,000 in fines in just 12 months.
Cloth Hall Street in the centre of Huddersfield could stake a claim to be one of the worst places to park in Yorkshire after 1,600 motorists were charged £35 parking fines.
The numbers would be higher were it not for shop workers who have been warning confused drivers of the parking rules.
One side of the street has pay-and-display ticket machines and parking bays but the other side is for disabled badge holders and for loading and unloading.
Two new warning signs, though prominent, appear to be having little effect on motorists’ behaviour.
Among those caught out was Matthew Mills, 32, who is taking the matter to an adjudicator and refusing to pay up.
He parked in a bay, put a ticket in his windscreen, but later discovered that a warden had issued a penalty notice.
As well as being livid, he was also confused by what he had done wrong.
He returned to Cloth Hall Street for a closer look before he realised he had parked in a shared-use disabled and loading bay.
Mr Mills, who works as a resourcing manager for a supermarket and lives in Edgerton, Huddersfield, said: “There are no differences in the road markings on both sides of the street. The ticket machines led me to think it was pay-and-display but this is only on one side of the road.”
Feeling very annoyed, he refused to pay the fine and appealed to the council but this was rejected.
The council is now chasing him for £70 – it doubles for non-payers – but Mr Mills is standing firm and is taking the authority to an adjudicator after council bosses rejected his appeal.
He doesn’t expect to win but wants to make his case “on principle” as he believes the council is making a lot of money at the expense of drivers confused by the street’s parking regime.
He discovered via a Freedom of Information request that he was one of 1,613 drivers caught out on Cloth Hall Street last year.
“This is a very small street with very few bays, so how can the council issue so many tickets?” he asked.
“I’ve opted to appeal, knowing it’s quite likely that I’ll lose. I feel strongly that many people were issued tickets after buying a ticket and parking with good faith. This is a financial burden on the souls who fall foul of this trap.
“I must be clearly quite mad to waste my money championing this injustice but if I don’t I am worried this will continue.”
Yesterday the Yorkshire Post saw five motorists make the same basic blunder within about 45 minutes.
Staff at a nearby café stepped in to warn them.
A nurse, Rachel Barrow, 27, who parked in a similar spot to Mr Mills, said: “I just thought it was a normal parking space. I would say it is unclear. There should be clearer markings. It’s a way of making money.”
Café worker Chris Stylianou has lost count of the number of people he has warned about parking on Cloth Hall Street, where he works.
“I warn about four or five people a day. They park up, go across the road and put a ticket on – and don’t read the signs. People are confused, probably in a hurry. The signs are clear but people don’t read them.”
His café colleague Sophia Loizou recalled seeing two traffic wardens working the street.
“I think they have a competition between themselves to see who can get the most tickets,” she joked.
A spokesman for Kirklees Council said: “Markings on the road surface would not comply with the special authorisation for Cloth Hall Street that was issued by the Department for Transport. The restrictions comply fully with legal requirements and there is signage to explain them.”
The council applied for permission to put up new signs more than a year ago after admitting that existing signs were not legal.
Some able-bodied motorists had been parking in disabled bays, which were marked out in the road with white paint.
In 2010 the council appealed to motorists to “respect” the signs, despite the legal loophole – a hole which has now been firmly closed.
• CLOTH Hall Street is a one-way thoroughfare in the centre of Huddersfield and, because it is close to major banks and shops, is one of the busiest.
Yesterday a steady stream of able-bodied drivers parked up in the handful of bays reserved for the disabled and for loading and unloading.
One or two drivers may have been aware of the signs but most confessed they had not seen them and believed the whole street was pay-and-display parking.
A French woman, who asked not to be named, said: “I looked on the ground to see if it was a disabled space. Usually there are words to say this. Usually the signs are quite good in Huddersfield and I must agree that there are signs on this road. But it is a nuisance. I saw the ticket machine and found it very confusing. I needed to park close to the banks to take my husband, who has dementia.”
Mokhtar Elashaheb, 45, said: “I have come over from Manchester and usually it says ‘disabled’ on the road. It doesn’t.”