A HUGELY controversial car park has been taken over by new operators after months of complaints of unfair fines.

ParkJockey are the new operators of Westgate Car Park in Basildon after a legal battle saw previous operators, Smart Parking UK, have their contract terminated in March.

Smart Parking received enormous criticism from users after they introduced ANPR cameras in July last year, with residents claiming they were fined despite paying for parking and the pay machines having consistent faults.

In March, project management company MJ Mapp took back control of the car park and shut down all ticket machines.

Over the last year, Basildon MPs Stephen Metcalfe and John Baron have been demanding changes in the way the car park was operated.

They met with Smart Parking and achieved some concessions from the operator, which they claim were nowhere near satisfactory.

They took many individual cases to combat unfair parking charges and pushed the British Parking Association to apply their Code of Conduct more vigorously.

The issue was raised with government ministers and in Parliament.

Since September 2018, more than 5.5 thousand people joined a Facebook group to express concern about parking operation problems at Westgate.

Stephen Metcalfe said: “I am pleased that, after a protracted campaign, Smart Parking’s unfair and exploitative practices at Westgate in Basildon have ended and new operators have now been appointed.

“I hope that the new operator, ParkJockey, is fully aware of their challenge to win over the confidence of local shoppers who have campaigned tirelessly to end the sharp practices of Smart Parking.

“The previous scheme in operation was the last thing businesses needed when already facing unprecedented high street challenges.

“I hope this victory for local people over exploitative business practice sees normal operations return to the car park and facilitates a restoration of parking availability for shoppers.”

John Baron said: “After our campaign to resolve the parking situation at Westgate in Basildon, I was pleased to hear that a new operator has now been appointed by the car park owners.

“It is important that ParkJockey now implement a fair means of revenue collection which is transparent for drivers and ensures that parking spaces are available for those wishing to use the local amenities.”