A QUIET market day sparked a parking row as disabled badge holders were fined in a town centre car park.
Gale force winds and winter temperatures led to Hartlepool’s Thursday open market, next to the ramp in York Road, in the town having less than a dozen stalls.
Due to the sparse market space, motorists took the opportunity to park in the car park which is usually taken up by stalls.
But disabled badge holders returned to their vehicles to find they had been slapped with a £35 penalty notice.
Hartlepool Borough Council says the area is designated for the open market on a Thursday and market traders voiced concerns about the safety of pedestrians.
But Tracy Reine, 47, a full-time carer for her disabled husband, Stephen, 55, said she was “disgusted” after discovering she had been handed a fine.
The mum-of-four, who lives in Trimdon, said: “We normally come into Hartlepool to do some shopping twice a week and we never have any problems.
“We usually park elsewhere, but this car park was empty.
“The pay and display machine was covered up, but it didn’t say anywhere that disabled badge holders couldn’t park here.
“How am I supposed to know that we aren’t allowed to park here at all on a Thursday?”
Penalty notices were slapped on the windscreens of other cars with blue badges correctly on display and those without badges.
Bill Hanna, 62, a dad-of-two and retired factory worker, watched on in anger as car parking attendants dished out the fines.
Bill, who lives in Kinglsey Avenue, in the town, said: “It’s an absolute shambles.
“There was no fence up or anything stopping people from parking there and there was hardly a market on so what’s the problem with people parking there?
“People have done nothing wrong, they went to do their shopping and came back to find they have been given a fine.
“It’s a disgrace.”
A spokesman for the council said: “We did issue a number of parking tickets to motorists on Thursday who parked in an area designated for the Thursday open market.
“This followed concerns from market traders about the safety of pedestrians.
“Under normal circumstances the market stalls create a barrier to prevent cars from accessing the area, but due to the unusually low turnout of market traders on Thursday there was no barrier to stop vehicles.
“We are aware that some motorists feel aggrieved after receiving a parking ticket and they are entitled to appeal against the decision.”