It's only 300 yards long, but is this the worst road to park on in Britain?

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The Independent Online

A bewildering array of restrictions with single yellow lines, permit bays and pay-and-display berths have made a 300-yard stretch of Ravensbourne Road in Bromley, Kent, one of the most confusing parking areas in Britain.

A bewildering array of restrictions with single yellow lines, permit bays and pay-and-display berths have made a 300-yard stretch of Ravensbourne Road in Bromley, Kent, one of the most confusing parking areas in Britain.

Before 8.30am anyone can park anywhere in Ravensbourne Road. Yellow lines, pay-and-display bays, permit holders' bays - it's all fair game.

As the clock strikes half past eight everything changes. Residents with permits (£40 each) can park for free in a permit bay - if they can find one. There are just five bays reserved for hundreds of permit holders. Those who can't find a permit bay can park in a pay-and-display spot, but only for two hours. Visitors looking for a place to park can also use a pay-and-display.

Come 6.30pm and everything changes again. Permit holders can now park in some of the pay-and-display spots for free, but not all of them. A visitor parked in one of the pay-and-display bays, which switches to a permit bay at 6.30, will get a ticket.

Just to complicate things further, the parking meters will still take money after 6.30, leading many motorists to assume that they are safe. Some restrictions end at 6.30 so, for instance, visitors can park on a single yellow line but they can't park in the empty pay-and-display bay next to it.

The regulations also appear to change at different points along the road. Adjacent bays have different rules. Drivers have to cross-reference the number of the parking bay with the numbers on the parking meter - and then double check that with the information on the signpost. At 8pm, the rules change again.

The permit bays are still restricted to residents with permits, but the pay-and-display areas become free. Yet the parking meter will still take your money. A recent national survey by the RAC Foundation found that 29 per cent of drivers have given up their journey and gone home because of a lack of parking spaces.

Parking firms have, in some cases, been their own worst enemy. Over-zealous parking attendants, encouraged by the need to hit targets, have handed out tickets in bizarre circumstances.

The most common complaint is the "ghost" ticket. Parking attendants issue it after a vehicle has driven away. The first a driver knows is when a penalty charge notice arrives in the post.

In one of the more bizarre incidents parked cars in legitimate parking bays in Ealing, west London, were lifted up while yellow lines were painted underneath. The cars were then given tickets.

Confusing signs, like those in Bromley, are also cited by motorists who have accumulated tickets. Bromley council, which has contracted out parking enforcement to French-owned Vinci Park, says the regulations have been designed in conjunction with local residents and businesses. The council also says the clarity of its signs has been approved.

On Ravensbourne Road, though, Neil Miller, a resident, is less sure. "It's so confusing. People who are visiting Bromley are never going to be able to understand it," he says. His solution is to park in his back garden. "You don't need a permit there."

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