OPERATORS of a Dunfermline town centre care park have fined a Townhill man £100 for returning 57 seconds before the end of a minimum 30-minute return limit.

Douglas Smith had popped into shops at the Carnegie Retail Park last month.

When he got home, he realised he had forgotten something so returned 29 minutes and three seconds later – a costly mistake as he breached the 30-minute return limit.

Douglas wants to warn Press readers and fellow drivers about the risks about the restrictions.

"It is very frustrating and something I never, ever thought would have been in place at the Carnegie Retail Park," he said. "I feel scunnered – I feel I have been unfairly and harshly treated.

"When I received it, it wasn't clear from the letter what the actual charge was for. It was only when I read it through several times, it came to my mind I had actually returned to the car park 29 minutes and three seconds later – 57 seconds under the 30-minute return limit.

"It was not as if I hadn't parked in an allocated space, the car park is used quite widely for people walking over to the Kingsgate or the High Street. I wasn't doing that. I was parking to go to Home Bargains and Farmfoods.

"Someone may be dropping someone off and returning to collect them, they are likely to be subject to a parking charge."

After unsuccessfully appealing the fine, Douglas has now referred his case to arbitration in the hope that it could be quashed.

"It is something I want to make people aware of the potential risk to them if they don't mind the instructions," he added.

A spokesperson for HX Car Park Management Ltd said they were in contract with the landowner to manage the terms and conditions of their land.

"The landowner stated they would like a maximum stay of three hours, and a no-return period of 30 minutes and so we enforce these terms," said the spokesperson.

"We are accredited by the International Parking Community (IPC), who audit all of our signage and sites prior to issuing PCNs. They have deemed the signage and site sufficient at Carnegie Drive Retail Park.

"It is the driver’s responsibility to read the signage on site when they are choosing to park their vehicle and, had Mr Smith read the terms, he would have known not to return to the site within the no-return period.

"29 minutes and 3 seconds is within the 30-minute period and is therefore a breach of the terms and conditions on site.

"There are 40 signs in and around the car park. Our web address, email address and telephone number are stated on signage and so people do often contact us in order to inform us that they have breached the terms due to unforeseen circumstances. In such cases, we are happy to prevent a PCN being issued.

"The internal appeal was declined as the charge was issued correctly and Mr Smith failed to take note of the signage on site."