A MOTORIST who faces spiralling fines for parking in the wrong space is refusing to pay.

Barry Bawden said he paid £5 on two occasions for a longstay space in the car park in School Lane, Benfleet, but was fined after being forced to use a short-stay space.

The car park operated by Castle Point Council, has a mixture of long and short-stay spaces and is primarily used by commuters travelling from Benfleet train station.

Mr Bawden, 46, of Linton Road, Benfleet, said: “It’s happened twice now. The first occasion was on September 30.

I had to get the train to London and paid £5 for the long stay.

“There were no long-stay bays left, only short-stay, so I thought I would park there.

“I came back to a penalty charge notice saying I hadn’t displayed a valid ticket.

“I could understand if I hadn’t bought a ticket, but I had spent £5 on one.”

Mr Bawden was fined again on October 14 after again buying a long-stay ticket and using a short-stay space.

He said: “I don’t know why there aren’t enough long stay bays. I don’t think they can physically put any more in there as it’s always full.

“Surely they could make it more flexible so if you’ve paid for a long-stay ticket, but there are no spaces they can let you use a short stay space?”

The fixed penalty notice fine is £25, if paid within 14 days, and £50 if paid after that.

Mr Bawden said: “Out of principle, I will not be paying. I would pay for a solicitor to back me. I’m infuriated and think it’s really heavy-handed.”

Over the past six months, 959 tickets have been issued in the car park.

A council spokesman said: “There are only eight shortstay bays within the car park that has approximately 600 spaces. Short-term parking bays have a maximum stay of three hours, no parking for longer than this is permitted.

The eight short-term parking bays are very clearly marked.

“Signs are displayed within the car park advising that users are to find a space before purchasing a ticket during busy times. Likewise, if the car park has been busy at time of arrival, users should not purchase multiple days tickets.”