A council has been slammed after contractors painted double yellow lines under parked cars just before wardens slapped them with £70 tickets.
Wokingham Borough Council have apologised for the blunder, which they blamed on an “unfortunate coincidence”.
The council said parking enforcers were in the area by chance after the cars were lifted by a crane so the lines could be painted.
Car owners were stunned to find they had £70 penalty notices for parking on the double yellows, that hadn’t been there hours earlier.
Furious Moeen Ulhaq, a 19-year-old student, said he was appealing against the fine.
“I parked there last night and there were no signs warning they would be painting lines,” he said.
“I woke up about 10.30am and my mum told me they were moving the cars and painting lines. They didn’t make much noise, I couldn’t hear them doing it.
“One by one, they were lifting each car and putting them back down. I got there and my ticket had been issued at 11.20am.”
Shirley Boyt, Labour councillor for the Bulmershe and Whitegates, said contractor Volker Highways had painted double yellow lines at Blackthorn Close, off Culver Lane.
They lifted cars parked along the close with a crane on a truck, and while suspended, painted the yellow lines underneath. Cars were then placed back down, and slapped with a parking fine.
Cllr Boyt said residents were given no notice of the works.
However, in an email from the borough council’s highways team, she was told that parking restriction cones would be placed on the road yesterday. This, she said, did not happen.
Cllr Boyt said she had reached out to the borough council last week, concerned that residents would not know the line painting was happening.
“I offered to place letters on each car parked there,” she explained. “But the council said that would not be necessary as there would be cones.”
Cllr Boyt said she believes Wokingham Borough Council “does not know what’s going on” in regards to its contractor Volker Highways.
In mid-October, the road opposite Blackthorn Close, Anderson Avenue, had yellow lines painted on it, one week before it was resurfaced and then re-painted.
When Cllr Boyt queried this, she said the borough council told her they were unaware lines had been painted on Anderson Avenue.
Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for Wokingham Borough Council, said: “This incident was caused by an unfortunate coincidence that our parking enforcement contractors happened to be in the area shortly after the double yellow lines had been painted. We have different contractors for painting the lines and for parking enforcement.
“We are sorry this happened and would encourage anybody who received a parking ticket in this way to appeal to have the fine cancelled.”
She said it is illegal for WBC to cancel any fines issued without an appeal being made, even though it would like to.
Cllr Jorgensen added: “Residents in Blackthorn Close had requested the double yellow lines and our contractors have been out previously to paint them but had been unable because of parked cars.
“On this occasion, they put out cones in advance to prevent this, but some cars had parked there anyway and so had to be safely moved away while the lines were painted.
“To avoid similar mix-ups in future we will ensure these two contractors communicate.”
But Cllr Shirley Boyt, Labour councillor for Bulmershe and Whitegates, said even if cones were placed out the day before the work, that is not “adequate” warning.
“They should have had signs mounted on lampposts for two to three days,” she said. “Some people might only move their car at the weekends.”
She said that in previous years, signs warning about upcoming works such as line painting have been placed in the area prior.