A FREE parking fiasco was today branded a farce.
A loophope has caused a free-for-all as thousands of parking spaces become available without motorists risking a fine.
Newcastle Council chiefs are preparing for parking enforcement to become a civil rather then criminal matter, which is expected to be authorised next month.
But it means the council has been left powerless to enforce its own regulations.
And while the new rules are being sorted, many loading, disabled, taxi and resident parking bays are now up for grabs to anyone.
City bosses have replaced about 3,000 £30 fixed-daily charge signs and bay markings across the city in advance of the switch.
But traffic wardens are powerless to fine anyone for parking in those bays because the signs and markings are specific to the new orders – which have yet to be signed off by the Government.
Parking campaigners are celebrating the council’s admission as a victory for drivers in the city.
But council chiefs have warned it would be “irresponsible” for people to park in bays meant for disabled people, taxis, residents and for loading.
Parking campaigner Neil Herron, who has previously helped several motorists challenge fines from the £30 signs, said: “For at least four or five weeks, Newcastle businesses are going to benefit and more people are going to come into the city because they’re not going to be punished with parking fines.”
ChronicleLive, 14th March 2009