A COUNTY Durham woman has branded a £100 parking charge as "disgusting" after stopping on a stretch of road for less than 60 seconds.

Lynsey Carr of Peterlee hit back at Regent Parking, which enforces restrictions on the road linking Thinford Services near Spennymoor, and the A167, after her appeal was rejected.

The self-employed graphic designer, who is now urging other motorists to avoid making the same mistake, echoed previous concerns raised over signage on the road.

However, the parking company have since refuted any suggestion it is not clear that restrictions are in force, as it said it remains satisfied that signage is sufficient.

Read more: Parking company changes signs after concerns raised at Thinford near Durham

Hitting back, Ms Carr slammed the charge saying motorists would need to exit their vehicle, and study the restrictions, before realising what the rules actually are.

She told The Northern Echo: "It's just disgusting - this is just a money making racket."

Ms Carr had been travelling from Peterlee towards Sunderland Bridge when she was caught out by the stretch of road on April 20, this year. 

The Northern Echo:

The stretch of road taken last year before additional signs were added by Regent Parking Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

She was on her way to an event set up for business-owners affected by the Covid pandemic, when her sat-nav told her she had arrived upon reaching Thinford roundabout.

Choosing to find somewhere safe to pull up in order to "correct" her sat-nav, Ms Carr said she had only been stopped on the road for a matter of seconds.

Read more: Drivers warn others after being hit with £100 charge at Thinford near Durham 

She said: "I must have been there for less than minute - while I was there, a woman stopped me and got me to wind down my window and she said don't stop you'll get a parking ticket."

But completely unaware of any wrongdoing on her part, it was not until she received the parking charge through the post two days later that she realised she had breached the rules.

She said: "I went back as soon as I got it, I just couldn't believe it - I kept thinking 'how on earth did I get that ticket'."

Saying signage was not clear enough, Ms Carr said she believed a lack of road markings and legible signs at the entry points had led to people being caught out.

Lodging an extensive appeal on those grounds, Ms Carr said this was refused as she was instead advised to take it to the Independent Appeals Service.

The Northern Echo:

Ms Carr said that the details of her parking charge notice had not been uploaded online, meaning she could not appeal it straight away 

She said: "I paid it in the end, they said I could pay the fine of £60 if paid within 14 days - or I'd have to pay £100 if I failed the appeal.

"I couldn't even appeal it straight away - everytime I went on it said it hadn't been uploaded, so I had to send a letter."

Ms Carr added that she believed the company had subsequently made it increasingly "difficult" to appeal as the parking charge notice had three different addresses.

Urging the company to bring in a "grace period" to prevent genuine mistakes from being penalised, she branded the rules as they currently are as unfair. 

In response, Regent Parking refuted any suggestion its signage was not clear to motorists saying that it has notices that are three feet high.

It said that it remained the terms and conditions of the road that a motorists will be issued a charge regardless of the length of time they are stopped.

The Northern Echo:

The signs that have been installed across the stretch of road at Thinford services, near Durham Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

A spokesperson said: "In respect of how the appeal has been handled, if a driver is not satisfied with the outcome of an appeal, they are able to use an Independent Appeals Service which is free to the motorist and paid for by parking operators. It is noteworthy that Ms Carr did not do so."

Referring to previous concerns raised at the site, the spokesperson said it was always happy to respond to "genuine complaints," but on this occasion they would be rejecting submissions made by Ms Carr.

They said: "We are satisfied that the signage is sufficient and drivers will be aware that terms and conditions apply. Whether a vehicle stops for one minute or 30 minutes, they will receive a charge if they stop on the roadway."