HUNDREDS of motorists paid the penalty when free parking signs were ‘mistakenly’ removed on the busiest shopping day in Uttoxeter’s calendar.
As repeatedly reported in the Advertiser, East Staffordshire Borough Council offered free parking from 1pm on Friday for the town’s Christmas lights switch-on and Victorian Market.
Signs were erected next to pay and display machines in the Maltings car park advertising the free service months in advance.
But, ironically, they were taken down on the morning of the event, leaving hundreds of shoppers - particularly those from out of town - unaware of the festive offer.
David Edmonston, of Edmonston’s butchers, which neighbours the Maltings, was ‘furious’ when he saw people paying for their parking.
He said, despite the blunder, council bosses should have used the covers draped over the pay and display machines when they’re out of order.
He said: “I just think it’s really, really unprofessional the way they’ve gone about it.
“We don’t appear to be having the usual free parking on Wednesdays leading up to Christmas but everyone was pleased the Christmas market and the town in general would benefit from Friday’s offer.
“I’ve seen literally hundreds of people paying from my shop window.
“It wasn’t until late afternoon they’d put the sign back up and it wasn’t obvious enough as people were still paying even then.
“They must have raked in £300 in extra revenue.”
A borough council spokesman said: “The customer notices explaining the availability of free car parking had been displayed on the car park machine’s tariff boards for two weeks prior to the Christmas light switch-on.
“Unfortunately one of the Council’s Officers removed the signs by mistake on the Friday rather than Saturday morning.
“As soon as this error was discovered the signs were reinstated to their original position as quickly as it was possible to do so.”