Parking confusion in Ipswich town centre over split car parks

Ipserv-run car parks on Long Street

Ipserv manage both the Hold and the University of Suffolk car parks in Long Street - Credit: Google Maps

A parking enforcement firm has acknowledged the potential for confusion at a central Ipswich car park where a number of visitors have been caught out and served fines. 

Dave Lee visited the Hold on October 2, paying for parking adjacent to the archives building and displaying his ticket on the dashboard of his car. 

But on October 7, he received a letter from Ipserv which said he had parked in a permit bay without clearly displaying a valid permit or holding a valid virtual permit. 

Mr Lee said: "When arranging my visit, I did ask a member of staff for advice about car parking facilities and was advised not to park in the car parking areas near the Hold because they were run by a private parking company.  

"Unfortunately, when I arrived in Ipswich, the car park that had been recommended was closed, so I took a risk and used the Ipserv-managed car park, taking care to be compliant with their car parking terms and conditions - so was very surprised to receive a parking charge notice." 

The parking notice showed he arrived at 10.24am and left at 3.05pm, with his purchased ticket not due to expire until 23.59pm. 

But while Ipserv manages a number of car parks in that area, not all are public - some are only for university students or staff members with permits. 

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Mr Lee confirmed he did not park in The Hold car park, which has a maximum stay of three hours, with his ticket identifying his stop as 'north campus terminal: north 1'. 

Ipserv cancelled the fine on October 11, informing Mr Lee that although he was parked in a permit-required car park they "do recognise that to enter the Hold car park, motorists are required to drive through the university car park". 

The letter continued: "Although there is signage throughout both car parks, we understand that this may confuse visitors to the Hold who have not visited before. Taking this into account, we have decided to approve your appeal on this occasion and your parking charge notice will be cancelled."

But an Ipserv spokesperson has since said: "Ipserv are confident that our signage in both car parks is fine and that this signage includes advising motorists that they need to park only in the car park for which their ticket is valid - the Hold car park or the University of Suffolk car park."

And Mr Lee is not the first to fall victim to confusion at this particular parking spot. A handful of Google reviews specifically mention caused by car parks "split into two".

Two months ago, a review from a parent who paid to park in the Hold car park on two consecutive Saturday mornings revealed he'd paid two £100 fines after "purchasing a ticket for the wrong car park". 

When taking his son to football training, he'd parked in the University of Suffolk car park but paid for the Hold on the RingGo app. 

The father conceded that the signage did state he shouldn't have parked where he did, but said he only noticed this when he went to investigate further - and added he would "never use an Ipserv car park again. I couldn't be sure I had purchased the correct ticket". 

And a student from the University of Suffolk was fined for 18 infringements at the end of last year after not realising her permit had expired during lockdown - despite paying an extra £2 daily fee on each occasion.