Clair Challenor-Chadwick said she was visiting a relative who was ‘succumbing to brain cancer’ when she received a £35 parking fine at 7pm.
The on-street bays are the responsibility of North Yorkshire County Council and simply state: ‘5 mins, no return to zone H on same day’.
But Clair, who explained she was unable to park in the hospital car park that week due to maintenance work being carried out, has questioned whether the restrictions are morally correct.
She said: “I personally find the five minute signs confusing. If there were double yellow lines along there no-one would get caught out at all.
She added: “The fact that they have spent money employing people to patrol that area after 6pm just strikes me as a poor use of money.
“Visitors are likely to be distressed and not particularly taking any notice of parking signs which are likely to be confusing. It just seems like a cynical thing for them to do.”
Clair also pointed to the fact that on-street bays in Harrogate are usually free after 6pm, adding: “I have also never seen a five minute sign anywhere else in Harrogate”.
Harrogate Borough Council is not responsible for on-street bays but it does manage the enforcement of restrictions, on behalf of NYCC.
Leader of HBC, Coun Richard Cooper, said: “No-one likes receiving a parking fine particularly if there are circumstances which may be mitigation for illegal parking about which, it must be acknowledged, parking enforcement officers are usually unaware.
“If there are extenuating circumstances then an appeal can be made and will be considered with sensitivity and compassion.
“I would encourage anybody who thinks that they have received a ticket unfairly to appeal.
Coun Cooper added that no additonal wardens have been employed to specifically target a particular area and that attendants are not paid by how many tickets they hand out.
A spokesperson for NYCC said: “The intention of the ‘Five Minutes - No Return on Same Day’ parking on Lancaster Park Road is to provide a drop-off and collection opportunity rather than providing any meaningful parking provision for visitors. Long-term parking on this road is restricted to residents and other relevant permit holders.
“Long-term parking is available within the hospital site, on any nearby unrestricted streets and for periods of up to three hours within the disc zone as signposted.”