Changes to Banbury's Spiceball car park leads to fines for some drivers - including blue badge holders
The leisure centre made the changes in mid-October from a cash-only machine to a parking system that operates from a number plate recognition camera that tracks car park users' entry and exit from the leisure centre.
The new system now allows users to pay for their parking time with cash, card, or the Ringo application and gives users of the leisure centre the option to prepay for parking ahead of using the centre.
Despite being advertised on the centre’s social media pages, on banners in the car park and on posters around the building, some drivers have encountered problems paying for or registering their stay, which has resulted in them being sent fines.
And some blue badge drivers, who don’t pay for parking, have been caught out.
Claire Lynn of the Spiceball Leisure Centre said: "We have had a few issues like with any new system and at the moment we are still trying to get the issue of people not being able to pay before 8am or after 6pm resolved.
"However, people can pay before and after their activity on the Ringo App or in the machine at the car park. So people can pay for a block of time that they are in the centre anytime between 8am and 6pm.
"For the customers who have had problems or have said that they were not aware of the changes, we have wiped a lot of their fines and tried to be as helpful as we possibly can. It was a change, and we are working our way through it.
"With the blue badge holders, they have been so used to just coming in without having to pay, but now they have to enter their registration on a tablet at the reception in order to receive the free parking.
"We will help the blue badge holders register, and we have not turned anyone away who has said they didn’t realise and have managed to cancel the fines of people who received them."
The Hayward couple are one of the regular blue badge visitors who were recently caught out by the car park changes and were left feeling “shaken and upset” after receiving two fines within a short time frame.
Keith Hayward said: "My partner, who is a disabled person, and I use the Spiceball centre for the swimming classes which we both get a lot out of.
"We park there using our disabled badge as normal, but all of a sudden we get two fines in the post saying we have to pay two £100 fines, which were reduced to £60 if we paid within 28 days and we thought goodness where has this come from.
"I paid the first one and went down to the Spiceball to talk with them. They said that they had put notices in the car park but all it said was that the charges had been changed.
"As we don’t pay anything, I just thought it didn’t apply to us, it was very ambiguous they should have properly informed us blue badge holders to avoid causing all this stress.