SALTAIRE residents and politicians alike are keeping a watchful eye on a pay-and-display car park with a long history of controversy.

The site on Oastler Road was previously run by Birmingham-based Smart Parking who faced accusations of unfair parking fines costing £100.

But now people are hopeful the car park on Oastler Road will enter a new era of goodwill under a new partnership with UK Car Parking Management (CPM) on behalf of Manchester-based Saltaire Investments.

But there are concerns over “unclear” signage at the site.

The first 20 minutes are free, then the charge is £1 for between 20 minutes and an hour. The fee rises by £1 more for each hour after that, but there is a four-hour maximum stay.

The car park will use number plate recognition and request vehicle keeper details from the DVLA to catch overstayers. The cameras will be activated on Monday, October 7.

Ludi Simpson, who organised a petition against Smart Parking, contacted CPM nine days ago about his concerns over signage but has had no reply.

Mr Simpson said: “They can win our trust but they can’t do that by not replying to letters.

“We now have a date so that hopefully gives them chance to change the signage. The signage is absolutely unclear and both the landlord and local residents have asked them to change it.

“I would like some response from them directly. The small print on the sign that’s been put up says that all motorists must enter their registration number. If true this will again catch out those who see the bigger print ‘20 minutes free’ and don’t go to the machine.”

CPM told the Telegraph & Argus that motorists will not have to register their vehicle if they are only parking for 20 minutes. It said the signage, which reads “all motorists must enter their full, correct vehicle registration”, demonstrates that only motorists staying over the free period must register their number plate.

CPM said there will be a grace period to make sure “vehicles are able to leave (the) site after their time has expired”.

Mr Simpson’s apprehension was shared by Shipley councillor Vick Jenkins (Lab) who express her frustration over the lack of clarity.

Cllr Jenkins said she had been assured by the managing company that future charges would be similar to local council car parks.

Cllr Jenkins said: “The 24-hour charging period is also a concern as it’s highly unusual in this type of car park. I am looking forward to hearing the voices of local businesses and people at the meeting.

“If there is a grace period for 20 minutes it will be difficult to know whether this exists if you arrive at the car park and whether you are contravening it. The signs are too small to read and too high off the ground to read easily. I am worried, with previous experience of the way this car park was run, that it will put people off shopping in Saltaire.”

A meeting will bring councillors and residents together this Saturday at the Tambourine Cafe. From 5pm, locals can share their concerns but CPM are yet to confirm attendance. Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies, who is seeking to meet the new operators of the car park, said: “If anybody has any problems at all I would urge them to let me know.”