Cllr Phil Harvey in Market Street, Highbridge

A Burnham-On-Sea councillor has called on Somerset County Council to cancel parking fines imposed before June 15th due to his claim that there has been confusion over when charging restarted.

Local councils had suspended car parking charges in their Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge car parks since late March due to the Coronavirus pandemic as the councils redeployed their parking enforcement officers to support community work instead, however charges have since resumed.

Cllr Phil Harvey says: “I have had a number of complaints about the resumption of car parking enforcement in Burnham-On-Sea which has occurred before the resumption of charges in the local car parks on June 15th. Apparently Somerset County Council Parking Services relied on the issuance of a press guidance and postings on Facebook and Twitter to communicate with those affected. This obviously cannot be guaranteed to reach those directly affected by the decision. It is a fact that the residents in the affected areas were easily identifiable and could have received a notice (similar to those for public street works) to allow direct and clear communication with those worst affected.”

Burnham's B&M car park

“Many residents do not appreciate that the car parks are run by Sedgemoor but on-street parking by Somerset. The resumption of car park charging was well publicised by Sedgemoor so people assumed this also applied to the roads. The situation is confused even more by the same parking wardens monitoring both car parks and streets which reinforces the perception that the same authority runs both. May I request that parking fines imposed before the 15th June are cancelled and, if paid, reimbursed?”

A spokeswoman for Somerset County Council told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “Following the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions towards the end of May, and increasing traffic levels, a decision was made to restart on-street parking patrols on 1 June.”

“Details were provided in advance to a wide range of media outlets across the county, including here on Burnham-On-Sea.com, along with details on the SCC website, social media and e-newsletter. This is the same way we publicised the relaxation of enforcement at the start of the lockdown.”

“During the first week no penalties were served unless a vehicle was parked where it should not have been, i.e. double yellow lines. Vehicles parked in permitted areas, such as a limited waiting bay, received an advisory notice. After the first week usual patrols recommenced with any vehicle parked in contravention served with a penalty.”

“Any driver receiving a penalty is encouraged to challenge the notice with details why they think it should not be paid. If the challenge is rejected the registered keeper will have the opportunity to appeal against the Council’s decision to the independent Traffic Penalty Tribunal. Its decision is final and binding on both parties and is free of charge.”

“As many of the penalties were served to vehicles parked in areas where they should not be parking i.e. double yellow lines, the County Council is not proposing to cancel any penalties unless the driver has provided mitigating circumstances.”

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