An inspection by the Guardian and Channel 4 Dispatches uncovered more than 400 warnings to drivers stuck in long queues while signs flashed warning them of a paid parking problem.
Signs advising drivers to “bring in your goods” or “come here for free” are being used to distract impatient motorists from looking at costs. Many of the signs are pictured on the Guardian and Channel 4 Dispatches investigation. This photo of a sign was seen during traffic police ‘traffic command’ checks.
The majority of the black-listed seafront lots were at Green P lots in Brighton, famous for its flower market, and at the top of the Tor River, known as two points. The majority of the sign warnings at Green P lots were in grey lettering but some are wrapped in electric blue colour. A number of the signs can be seen on Brighton beach. Some appear to have been branded in pink and blue as a marketing tactic by Green P.
The signs are often visible from the road and from the beach. Detailed yellow traffic management signs in the same colour, with additional warnings as to the free parking policy, are often easier to read for drivers at a distance.
When a reporter approached Tesco at Green P, the store manager expressed sympathy with the parking issues, saying he thought the signs were on a large enough scale to deter drivers. However, he said that he was not in a position to choose which signs to put up and added that he would be waiting for clarification from the council as to the legal significance of one or more of the signs.
Brighton and Hove City Council said that its managing director, Tom Elliott, had written to the council’s group managing director, Peter Harrison, and chief executive, Marcus Morgan, regarding one of the signs at Green P. The council said that Mr Elliott had received a response from Mr Harrison, which had been that the sign could be interpreted differently depending on the context.
The council said the signs at Green P were not paid signs but were “windows” at which advertisers display their branding. These advertise taxi services and street marketing, such as a sex shop, an amusement arcade and a swimming pool.
When asked for an explanation about the sign, Tricia Fagan, the council’s marketing director, said the council did not want to be in a position of promoting ‘free parking’ during a congested time of the year. She said the council would be awaiting further clarification from the police.