Sol Central customers in Northampton vexed after council staff 'fill our car park every day'

Sol Central's car park has been selected by many of the county council's staff
Sol Central's car park has been selected by many of the county council's staff

Gym users and others at a Northampton town centre entertainment complex are often unable to use its car park because of county council staff taking all the spaces.

People wanting to use the Sol Central car park have for the last few weeks been met with frequent 'sorry, we're full' signs.

The situation has come about since the bulk of Northamptonshire County Council staff moved from County Hall to One Angel Square, which has a single staff parking space.

Employees of the local authority are expected to use park and ride and other sustainable methods to get to work but a large number are seemingly simply using town centre car parks.

"For at least the last month the parking has been awful, with regular people queuing on the ramp, with no spaces available.

"Then people started parking on the ends of bays, against walls and some of them dangerous as restricting views for other cars driving round.

"Most days, I'd circle around at least five times, driving in and out, to find a space."

It was only later that Sara found out the reason for the influx of cars, when a Sol Central manager confirmed by email that the extra cars were owned by council staff and that more enforcement, which was needed as a result, meant discounted parking fees were now being scrapped.

Sara has since cancelled her membership because she was unable to use the gym.

The council pointed out that, although it encouraged staff to use park and ride and other methods to get to work, it could not order staff not to leave their vehicles in town centre car parks.

A spokeswoman said: “We have a staff travel plan which includes a range of affordable transport options for our staff, including car sharing, park-and-ride and cycling schemes, in a bid to reduce congestion in the town centre and promote sustainable travel to work.”