A COUNCIL has been found guilty of maladministration following a government report into residents' complaints about parking at a community centre.

The Local Government Ombudsman carried out an investigation after a Kendal Road resident made a complaint against Hartlepool Borough Council about approval of planning permission for an extension to the Belle Vue Community Centre.

Before the extension was built, the centre had a car park with spaces for 26 cars. The extension was built over part of the area and a new car park for 25 cars was built.

An informal agreement was also made between the centre and the adjoining social club for the use of their car park as an overflow facility, which increased the car parking to 40 spaces.

A report to the council's regeneration and planning portfolio, which meets on Monday to discuss the Ombudsman's report, said it was thought there would be enough spaces as most people would travel to the centre by foot.

But the resident, who has physical disabilities, said serious traffic problems had resulted with people parking on Kendal Street so she had not being able to park close to her house and it had become unsafe for her children to cross the road.

Other residents also complained to the council and the centre about traffic problems.

The Ombudsman found the council guilty of maladministration and suggested the council should extend the car park and put up signs informing people of the overflow parking. She also suggested the council pay the complainant £100 compensation.

The report to Monday's meeting said: "The acting director of neighbourhood services has accepted certain procedures in the consultation process for the planning application were not as robust as they should have been.

"On this basis he has accepted the Ombudsman's recommendations."

* Parking charges look likely to be increased in car parks across Hartlepool to help fund refurbishment work.

Hartlepool Borough Council's cabinet will meet on Monday to consider proposals to increase pay-and-display fees, as well as the cost of contract, business and resident permit charges.

Car parks expected to undergo refurbishment include those in Albert Street, Coronation Drive and at Marks and Spencer.