Couple’s fury over ‘extortionate’ Sunday parking fine after theatre show overruns

An angry couple have hit out over an ‘extortionate and excessive’ parking fine they received on a Sunday afternoon after a packed-out show at a theatre overran.

Roy and Patricia Ashton, from Woodley in Stockport, admit they were 25 minutes late to get back to their Nissan Juke, but say the £100 penalty charge notice they subsequently got through the post ‘leaves a sour taste’ and serves only to tarnish Stockport’s reputation.

The couple had been with friends to Stockport Plaza for a matinee show by popular Stockport entertainer Andy Powell and his big band on March 5 – a Sunday. It was a sell-out with a crowd of more than 1,000 present.

Roy, 75, couldn’t use their normal parking space near the Plaza because it was so busy with parked traffic, despite them setting off an hour early for the 1pm show.

He dropped Patricia and their friends off then paid to park for three hours at the Euro Car Parks Piccadilly Stockport site, off St Petersgate in the town centre. Both have mobility issues and hold blue badges.

That was at 12.30pm and they returned and drove out of the car park at 3.55pm after the show finished late. Cameras are used by the company to capture images of vehicles entering and leaving to calculate their length of stay, reveals the penalty charge notice they were sent.

The fine, which the couple say they will begrudgingly pay, falls to £60 if settled by March 24.

But grandmother-of-six Patricia, 72, said: “We do admit we were late but I think it’s excessive and extortionate. It leaves a sour taste after you support your town.

“I just think it is scandalous and for a Sunday afternoon as well, it’s just not on.

“We support the Plaza as much as we can. It is a jewel in the town’s crown and a wonderfully stunning theatre.

“But people need to be aware of this, even for a Sunday afternoon when often Sunday afternoon parking is free in other areas. There is a lot of construction work going on in Stockport at the minute with the Interchange work, so parking is at a premium.”

Patricia said the whole area around the theatre was ‘chocca’ with traffic because of the show’s popularity.

“Unbeknown to us it was a full house,” she said. “We support the Plaza as often as we can and it is run by volunteers.

“The Plaza car park was full and the roads on both sides up to the Plaza were full as well.

“The show started and ended late – the interval went on longer as well due to the amount of people that were there. There was nothing we could do about it. The car park where we were was full of other cars so many more people, I believe, would have been caught out.

“But if the Plaza had not had that show on, there would have been no one in the car park.

“Fining people on a Sunday afternoon – people who have made an effort to go into Stockport on a Sunday – it’s wrong and I just want to raise awareness. We are going to have to pay it, but it is not on.”

The Manchester Evening News has contacted Euro Car Parks for comment.

Manchester Evening News – Stockport