A CAR park owner has been accused of jumping the gun by charging motorists to park outside the Matalan store in Rhyl.
Two parking ticket machines have been installed at the Greenfield Place car park, but the owners have not had permission from Denbighshire County Council to charge for parking.
The car park is owned by Nectar Asset Management of Copenhagen and its move to bring in charges has been opposed by Rhyl Town Council.
Gareth Nickels, Rhyl’s town clerk said: “The town council considered the application to introduce charges was not justified on the evidence provided.”
The town council has told the county council that far from being a deterrent to parking for users of the store, as suggested by applicant, free parking encourages customers to utilise both the car park and the store.
Parking charges displayed start at £1 for up to two hours, rising to £4 for up to 24 hours, although the two-hour charge is refunded if a minimum of £5 is spent in Matalan.
Graeme Rich, who runs the town’s 4,000 strong Rhyl Town Forum on Facebook, said: “The original permission for the site stated car parking had to be available free of charge, irrespective of whether people were shopping in the stores or not.
“Although permission has been granted for the machines, they have been installed too early and drivers are paying when the owners don’t have permission to charge. The owner’s application to charge has yet to go to Denbighshire’s planning committee.
“The council advised them not to install the machines before getting permission to charge, but they went ahead anyway and put them in. People have been paying since July. It is tantamount to extortion, there are signs threatening enforcement action.
“I have written to the applicant asking if they are going to take the machines out of action the fees. I have not received a reply.”
Denbighshire Council confirmed that when permission was originally given for the site, a condition stipulated parking should be available free to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Subsequently, this year, the company applied for ticket machines to be installed.
Permission was granted on condition they applied for the stipulation to be removed.
The application for the removal of the condition is likely to be considered by the planning committee on Wednesday October 11. More than 90 comments from the public have been received by the council
Nectar Asset Management was approached for comment, but no response was received.