Signs at waterfront Green P lots can fool drivers into paying for free parking

Calls to remove signs from Green P lots, no longer being used by council, have been disputed by Lewisham council

Signs at waterfront Green P lots can fool drivers into paying for free parking

Many of the cars winding up at Green P lots in Lewisham, south-east London, are befuddled by a series of signs that change the transaction window from free to paid within a short time span.

Enclosed with blue tape on the left of the car’s windscreen is a “pay to park” notice, which informs motorists that they will pay £3 for one hour or £5 for three. The later cost is then lit up in red.

This has happened once, apparently, and if you didn’t notice that earlier you may not notice it this time. The No 3 light in the middle of the top-left corner of the tatty green signs in the streets around Green P has been switched on to show that drivers can pay up for three hours.

Sunglasses worn by drivers can be seen ahead of the entrance to any Green P lot. Photograph: Leigh Powell for the Guardian

The signs are being taken down by the local council after it lost the right to the sites. The information-only lots, which were formerly home to a former brewery, old docks and parts of the London Underground, are no longer being used by Lewisham council.

Jw Barrington, a London-based campaign manager for the Low Carbon Campaign, which has been campaigning for green space, has called for the signs to be removed.

“People are paying for something that they haven’t requested,” he said. “They are stupid, inconsiderate signs.”

He said he had found a video of a Mini going through the signs like a whirlwind.

“The council should take responsibility for the signs, it’s not the contractor’s fault. It’s the council’s job to keep signs up, especially in busy areas like this. The council’s doing the opposite by hoarding the signs up, it’s just a massive mess.”

The signs were removed from London Fields in 2007 when they were abandoned after previous permission expired.

Their appearance is nothing new. The local authority issued a warning in 2010, saying that they were illegal to alter after a resident raised concerns about signs changing the transaction window in two days.

Private landowners may still be making money off signs that they advise visitors to remove or pay to display. A sign outside the C3 store in Rotherhithe in south-east London advises shoppers to sign the mobile phone and electrical goods validation form to ensure refunds are not charged on behalf of the store.

“When the sign is put up it says you can pay by cash,” a spokesperson for C3 said. “The sign isn’t changed, just the name.”

A spokesman for Lewisham council said the signs would be changed immediately.

“As soon as Green P lots closed in June, we asked for their signs to be removed to stop unauthorised changes,” he said. “Now they are being moved to allow the new temporary East Lewisham parking scheme to begin.”

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