Pantomime parking mix-up at Stevenage Leisure Park

PUBLISHED: 17:38 14 December 2017 | UPDATED: 17:38 14 December 2017

The coaches parked up at Stevenage Leisure Park

The coaches parked up at Stevenage Leisure Park

Archant

A panto villain parking attendant slapped tickets on coaches taking children to a Christmas pantomime in Stevenage last week after a fittingly theatrical breakdown in communication between a coach company and the firm which runs the park.

The receipts from McDonald's obtained by the coach drivers after purchasing food. Picture: Landmark Coaches.The receipts from McDonald's obtained by the coach drivers after purchasing food. Picture: Landmark Coaches.

Five carriages from Arlesey-based Landmark Coaches were parked up at Stevenage Leisure Park to give children from Stevenage schools a safe drop-off for the afternoon showing of Jack and the Beanstalk at the Gordon Craig Theatre – as there is very limited safe parking nearer to the venue.

But as the children trotted happily off to the show, it was a case of ‘he’s behind you’ as the ‘ogre’ who works for UKPC parking – the firm which runs parking at the leisure park – came down the beanstalk as the drivers were eating their lunch in McDonald’s and posted £100 fine notices on their windscreens.

On returning to the scene of the dastardly crime, the drivers were outraged, especially given that – as they do each year – they had spent their magic beans on purchasing food at the Leisure Park as a goodwill gesture in return for the cash cow of free parking.

The coach firm says it has done the same thing every year since time began as part of an informal understanding with the Leisure Park operating company JLL Ltd.

Not amused by the ogre’s antics, Mark Blatchly – who is MD at Landmark Coaches – told the Comet: “The main thing we were concerned about is the safety of those children.

“When you’ve got those kinds of numbers of children, there is no safe parking nearer the Gordon Craig so we always drop them at the leisure park.

“Every coach was issued with a parking charge.

“We do so many drops in December and we always park at the leisure ppark. Every coach company does it.”

In true panto fashion, a spokesman for Jones Lang LaSalle Limited – which runs the leisure park – said the issue had been due to a simple “communications breakdown” and the tickets had in fact been cancelled straight away when the misunderstanding of giant proportions was realised.

He added: “We are always happy to accommodate coach company requests for parking when permission is requested.

“Unfortunately, there was a communication breakdown and we never received a request, but as soon as the issue was identified we cancelled the tickets.”

In fact, since this incident Landmark requested parking on-site for another panto drop on Tuesday and its wish was duly granted.

It seems all is well that ends well, but coach companies using the leisure park will no doubt remain wary in future in case the ogre decides to seek revenge and feels his cash cow isn’t turning enough of a profit.

Stevenage Leisure Park states on its website that there are more than 1,200 free parking spaces for Stevenage Leisure Park customers. There is no restriction on the length of stay anyone who leaves the site while their vehicle remains there is liable for a £100 parking charge reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.

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