FIVE people have been left with a bill totalling £750 after being clamped for parking in, what appeared to be, legal car parking spaces.

The shoppers were horrified to return to their cars in Christopher Place car park on Saturday afternoon to find they had been clamped and would be charged £150 each.

But they all say the signage in the car park was completely inappropriate and did not make clear which spaces had been reserved.

Hannah Craddock of the Terrace in St Albans has vowed to take her custom elsewhere after she returned from her shopping trip in St Albans.

Eight spaces had been reserved for Hamptons estate agents in the car par underneath the shopping centre as part of a new season ticket scheme whereby businesses can pay a fixed rate to rent bays for staff.

Hannah, who is demanding a full refund, claimed the reserved spaces were unclearly marked so customers parked in the spaces, unaware they would be clamped.

Meanwhile Christopher Place has apologised and even admitted that it didn't expect shoppers to get clamped.

Hannah said: "All of the signs were flanked by a total of four wholly inadequate signs and not other clearly defined markings on the tarmac. All of the signs are above head height and some are obscured by structural pillars.

"The inconspicuous nature of the signs is further compounded by the fact that the Christopher Place car park is very dimly lit.

"The sheer disbelief and confusion over what could possibly warrant such action heaped a great deal of stress on everyone affected, prompting the need to call the police to a situation that frankly felt like robbery and extortion."

She added: "Christopher Place has a responsibility to check its signage is adequate.

"People do not have the resources to be able to lose £150 cash on a visit to Christopher Place or anywhere else for that matter."

Louise Michie, property administrator for Christopher Place, said she erected the penalty signs after reserved bay notices were ripped down by vandals last month.

She said the signs were put up to act as a deterrent but did not expect shoppers to actually get clamped.

She said: "Since I have been the property administrator for the shopping centre, I wanted to make significant changes to the car park to enhance the customer's experience.

"This included repainting, improved lighting and the introductory of a car valeting service.

"Recently I have issued season tickets to tenants and local businesses in the surrounding areas to help with the car parking problems we have in St Albans.

"Unfortunately customers were parking in the reserved spaces held by season ticket holders and therefore I had to use a clamping company to discourage customers from parking in the reserved area.

"I really did not anticipate that customers would repeatedly park in these reserved marked spaces and this resulted in vehicles being clamped."

However, after the Review had contacted her she added: "Under these circumstances I urgently advise the customers involved to appeal against the fine.

"I have personally spoken to the director of the clamping company and he verbally agreed to reimburse the customers in full.

"Please accept my sincere apologies for the inconvenience that this may have caused to the customers.

"I hope they continue to shop in Christopher Place and I will insure that this matter will not happen again."

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