Darlington Borough Council won't punish drivers for using Garden Street wasteland

A COUNCIL has scrapped parking fines issued to dozens of motorists after admitting it made a mistake.

Darlington Borough Council will reimburse 60 drivers who were penalised for parking on wasteland in Garden Street, Darlington.

Motorists were left upset when traffic wardens began handing out £70 fines to people leaving their vehicles on the former Seishin Martial Arts and Fitness Centre.

The site was previously used for free by motorists, but enforcement officials acted when they believed the cars were being left on an adopted public highway covered by double yellow lines.

However, Darlington Borough Council has now rescinded fines issued between November 16 and January 12, saying there was an ambiguity over the boundaries of the highway and private land.

The authority will now paint lines on the site to mark highlight private and public land to avoid similar incidents.

Rental car worker, John Wallace, 64, received a £70 fixed penalty for using the Garden Street site, and threatened to take legal action when his appeal against the fine was turned down.

Mr Wallace, who works for Europcar, in nearby Chesnut Street, said: “Common sense has prevailed, you can normally get about seven or eight cars no there and there never used to be any problem.

“It is a handy place for people to park, and I used it regularly for work all the time.

“But then all of a sudden they started throwing these tickets around and people didn't know what was going on.

“When you are on a basic wage, these areas are extremely valuable because they save money on expensive town centre parking.”

David Lyonette, the authority's cabinet member leading on parking, said: “We now realise that drivers could not have been aware of whether they were parked on the highway in this area.

“Although the tickets were issued in good faith, we have decided to cancel them and give refunds.

“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience this caused to drivers.”

Anyone who received parking ticket and does not receive a refund from the council by Thursday, January 31, should contact 01325-388740.

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