Anger as ticket inspectors clamp down on customers enjoying Hartlepool Marina nightlife
Business owners have hit out over the hike in car parking charges which they say have already seen dozens of people fined after leaving their cars around Navigation Point at Hartlepool Marina.
Last month new 24-hour parking tariffs were introduced around Navigation Point and business owners have said that fines have already been issued to drivers.
Members of the newly formed Hartlepool Marina Business Group (HMBG) have said the charges will send some businesses past breaking point.
And already the tariffs are being strictly enforced with business owners reporting that inspectors are coming out daily to hand out tickets to those in breach of the restrictions.
On Saturday, Adam Gaines, director of Rosie's, said he had seen around 20 tickets being issued and expressed worry that customers would stop coming to the marina.
He said: "There is a lot of public support for the car park to be taken over by the council.
"We don't want people to be put off coming down to the marina, so I am having to put stuff on social media to highlight what is happening."
Mr Gaines said both customers and staff are being affected by the new charges, with some staff even parking further away to avoid the car park altogether, something which he says sis a safety concern.
He continued: "Ticket inspectors have been coming round every night, at around 9pm or 10pm.
"On Saturday night there were two ticket inspectors there at the same time, which just highlights how aggressive they are with it.
"We as businesses are trying to give customers a good experience and they are coming out happy only to then find they have a ticket on their car."
HMBG member Andrew Bianco, co-owner of Bianco’s Deli, established at Navigation Point for 16 years, was also keen for a positive outcome to be reached.
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He said: "These car parking charges could be the final nail in the coffin for a lot of business down here.
"They also have a very aggressive fines system. Two ticketing officers came down at 9.30pm on Saturday night to catch people out and issued at least 30 tickets that I know of, no doubt many more.
Of the video he said: “It is the epitome of aggressive ticketing and a great example of what is going on.
“The charges and ticketing will deter people from coming down to the marina.
"So far we have had a positive response to our letter to the council.
"We are hoping they will look to take it over, that is exactly was we want as a group."
He added: "We are competing with the likes of Seaton who don't have a 24/7 car parking tariff.
"It's really tough for business owners and the night time trade is really going to be damaged by this.
"It is difficult as it is to get by in winter and business rely the summer trade to get them through the year.
"So for these charges to come in at this time of year is a real sickener."
Previously Joe Darragh, Mandale Group’s head of property development, said they are 'trying to make it user friendly' and aimed at moving people away from considering drink driving.
A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesperson also said previously: “We are in receipt of a letter from members of the Hartlepool Marina Business Group raising concerns around charges at the privately-owned car park that serves Navigation Point.
“We are looking at options regarding their preferred proposal in terms of acquiring the car park as part of the Council’s overall work to regenerate the Hartlepool Waterfront.”
Sheffield-based VCS, which manages the car park for Mandale Group, have been approached for comment.