A council has introduced a ‘pedestrian permit’ for residents wanting to walk through a council-owned car park to get to their homes.
Conservative-run Canterbury council sent letters to 14 households in Whitstable detailing the scheme, which also introduced a £122-a-year permit to allow vehicle access to the rear of their houses, and a demand that they take out public liability insurance of £2 million in case someone has an accident.
The letter included a 13-clause licence, which residents had to sign to say they accepted the 'terms and conditions'. None of the residents did so, and all have since complained to the council.
Canterbury council bought the land now known as Bisson's car park, which backs on to the 14 homes, through compulsory purchase in 1995.
The Daily Mail reported that the letter sent to residents states: "To continue using the council’s land for gaining vehicle access to the rear of your property, I am required to offer you an annual access licence of £122 for a vehicle and £16 for a pedestrian licence, renewable on April 1."
Local Andy Finch told the paper that said he couldn't believe the letter - which effectively forces him and his neighbours to pay an annual fee just for using their back door.
He said: ‘I thought it was a genuine April Fools’ joke - it is an insult to everyone else who already pays their council tax.’
A spokesman for the council hastily apologised as soon as the complaints started flooding in and said it was ‘reviewing the situation'.
He said: ‘We are sorry residents in Cromwell Road are unhappy.
‘Our intention was to regularise existing access to the rear of their properties by granting access licences across the residents’ car park.
‘However, concerns have been expressed about the proposal so we are going to pause and take time to discuss the situation with them to allow us to find a way forward that meets the needs of all parties.
‘We will be contacting the affected residents in the near future.’