Celebrations to mark a great weekend of wins at Tonbridge Juddians (TJs) rugby club were cut short when players and fans discovered they had been targeted by a team of traffic wardens handing out their own penalties.
After witnessing a triple home victory for TJs first, third and fourth team on Saturday afternoon (February 11), approximately 30 motorists who were parked next to The Slade returned to their vehicles to find tickets on their windscreens. Each faces a fine of £50, or £25 if paid within 14 days. Referees were among the recipients of the penalty notices.
Previously parking was free on Saturday afternoons but Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, which operate the car park confirmed that this was stopped in May 2016.
The council said this was done ‘to help keep spaces available for users of the sporting facilities in the area, as the car parks had become popular with those looking for free parking’.
However, many at the rugby club were unaware of these changes, despite them happening nine months ago.
A first team player who asked not to be named told the Times: “I’ve parked there the entire season and I’ve had no problems.
“We finished the game and were in the changing room when we were told that everyone parked outside had got a ticket. One of the coaches, the physio and about five players were included.
“It’s not what you want to hear after a big win – people weren’t in the best of moods.”
Club Chairman Darren Grasby described the situation as ‘deplorable’, adding: “As a club we find it very hard to swallow that the council is essentially charging people to take part in physical activity.
“We are in talks with the council and are pushing back quite hard against this. They put it under the guise of tackling shoppers but we know that is not the case, on match days it’s players, spectators and officials who are using the car park.”
The player added: “Technically yes, there is a sign about parking charges but to suddenly start enforcing it without warning the club is rather unfair.”
The council confirmed that three parking wardens were patrolling the area and said the club were fully aware of the changes to the parking rules and that penalties had been issued since May.
Jem Crick, whose Mochafella coffee van attends TJs’ games, said the sign (pictured) is not easy to see for drivers entering the car park, as ‘it is on the right when you are turning left, so you would not naturally look’.