FURIOUS residents have slammed a “rogue” parking firm for fining shoppers.

The payment machines and the vehicle recognition system at the Westgate Shopping Centre car park, Roundacre, Basildon, are reportedly faulty but fines are still being issued according to community leaders and shoppers.

Residents are also being charged at least 50p extra for using a telephone and online payment system while some older people are struggling as they do not have access to cards and online accounts.

A Facebook group with about 290 members has been created about the issue and residents are planning to protest this weekend.

Councillors and residents are now calling for serious action.

Tracey Dunne, 53, from Basildon, works at the shopping centre.

She said it’s awful.

She said: “There have been issues with this car park for some time.

“Older people do not have mobile phones with them or phones with internet access.

“I have seen groups of people standing by the machines not knowing what to do.

“The older people who have pensions can’t afford the fines and are getting quite frightened about it.

“So many people have been affected by this. People are getting fines when they haven’t done anything wrong.”

Carla Sykes. 37, from Vange has also had problems paying to park.

She said: “I parked there on Wednesday and I couldn’t pay, the machines were not working, I then tried five times to pay over the phone and the system wouldn’t accept it.

“I then got a parking fine for £45 which could increase to £50.

“If I had done something wrong I would pay it.”

Shoppers are also being caught out when paying to park at night and have to follow different payment procedures such as using different buttons.

David Dadds, mayor of Basildon has been talking to residents about this.

He said: “The reports I have got show the operation is unacceptable.

“To put a scheme in place that is bound to fail or up people trip is less than honest and extortionate.

“It is making it difficult for residents and giving Basildon a bad reputation.”

Andrew Buxton, Labour councillor for St Martins said the firm needs to get it’s act together.

He said: “I am not happy and completely sympathise with the residents.

“The residents are being left quite distressed about it.”

The Echo contacted Smart Parking for a comment but no response has been received from the company to our questions.