Parking ticket directs shoppers to Stockton-on-Tees

Councillor John Beirne with a ticket for North John St car park which displays an advert for Stockton on Tees shopping centre.
Councillor John Beirne with a ticket for North John St car park which displays an advert for Stockton on Tees shopping centre.

NOT many of us would consider making a 260-mile round trip just to try and pick up a bargain.

So St Helens shoppers were left baffled when a busy town centre car park started churning out tickets advertising Castlegate Shopping Centre in Stockton-on-Tees!

Town Centre councillor John Beirne, who helped to launch the borough’s shop local campaign during the recession, was stunned when a customer turned up at his hair salon and pointed out the error.

Town Hall bosses say the tickets, which were dispensed at North John Street car park last week, were simply ordered by mistake.

But Coun Beirne said: “The advert on the back of the ticket was for a shopping centre in Stockton-on-Tees near Middlesbrough. Although this shopping centre is miles away, surely our town centre parking tickets should be advertising local shopping centres in a bid to bring more trade into the town centre?

“In the current economic climate, St Helens town centre simply cannot afford silly mistakes like this. We all pay our business rates to the council, and this is how we are repaid.

“Who’s to say tickets at other car parks aren’t advertising rival shopping centres much closer to home?”

A Town Hall spokeswoman confirmed that the tickets were only dispensed for a short time - and that it was a genuine error on behalf of a council supplier.

She said: “We ordered some emergency tickets over the Christmas period to meet demand but the company sent us the wrong tickets.

“Once we realised there was a problem with them, we removed them from the machines and replaced them.”

n See Reporter comment - Page Six.