'Shoppers are driven out by parking fines'
TRADER Mark Manley has fallen victim to the city council's 'spy car' – after being caught parking illegally outside his own oatcake shop.
The 48-year-old pulled up on double yellow lines while making a delivery to Bees Knees, in Tunstall, when he was caught by the mobile enforcement vehicle.
He is one of 688 motorists fined for parking illegally in Tower Square in the last 18 months.
A further 58 drivers have also been captured by the car in nearby Roundwell Street and High Street.
But Mr Manley, of Packmoor, believes his customers will continue to be targeted – because it is so easy for the council to catch drivers.
He said: "It is a total money-making scheme. Everybody parks on the yellow lines in Tower Square because there are so few parking spaces in the town centre.
"Most people are there for just a few minutes while they grab some food but that is enough time for them to get caught.
"It is completely unfair. A lot of people don't even know where they are allowed to park because there are no signs and when they see the council 'spy car' they think it is Google Earth so they are shocked when they get a letter through the post.
"I am not surprised the figure is so high, the 'spy car' is out about three times a day."
Pauline Scally, manager of the Wrights pie shop in Tower Square, said: "Loading and deliveries are a real problem for us and our delivery driver has been fined before and it is not fair. If he forgets something he can't just come back because it is supposed to be no loading between 10am and 4pm."
Mrs Scally, of Talke, added: "The parking fines put customers off coming into the town as well because they don't come back.
"The council wants to promote town centres and get more people spending but they do things like this and wonder why independent businesses are closing all the time."
Teenage driver Hayden Mellor, aged 17, of Mow Cop, who works in Ideal Buys, says the council is 'over-zealous' in issuing tickets.
He said: "There isn't any parking in Tunstall so people take the opportunity to pull up outside whenever they can. They are only there for a few minutes.
"I see the 'spy car' driving around and it is there all the time and it drives customers away. If people think they are at risk of getting a fine then they choose to park somewhere else."
Stoke-on-Trent City Council brought in the 'spy car' in 2010 to monitor parking on single and double yellow lines and to keep loading bays clear.
The Toyota IQ – which has four CCTV cameras and special recording equipment – issues fines of between £50 and £70.
Paul Edwards, who has run Forster Street Fishing Tackle, in Forster Street, Tunstall, for 33 years, added: "We never used to have any parking wardens but since the 'spy car' has been brought in people are always getting caught.
"Every time you speak to people they always moan about parking, it is the only thing people are bothered about. It is a long-running issue."