FURIOUS shoppers surrounded car clampers after they removed a free parking sign and clamped their cars.
Citywatch Parking Enforcement workers threatened to tow away their vehicles unless they handed over hundreds of pounds.
Motorists reacted angrily when staff slapped fixed penalty notices and clamps on four vehicles in a car park behind High Street, Cosham, near the New Look and Icleand stores.
Clampers had removed the previous sign – which stated parking was free of charge for an hour-and-a-half – after drivers had parked there.
Alex Ray, 27, from Farlington, had parked and gone to Iceland when he was clamped yesterday. He said: ‘There was no public notice telling me that I couldn’t park here. It wasn’t until I came back from the shops that clampers had turned up, removed the free-parking sign and put clamps on my car.’
He was told to cough up an £85 penalty and £125 release fee, because the nine parking bays behind the shops were now for employees with permits.
The cars were later released without charge after car park managers Lee Baron Commercial revealed its contractors hadn’t removed all of the 30 free parking signs.
Disabled Sylvia Little, 76, said: ‘I’m appalled that they want to take money off people.’
Kevin Kelehan of Lee Baron Commercial said: ‘I regularly do site checks and found more often that not people would leave their cars to go off and do other things. We want to put a stop to that by implementing these new regulations.’
He added: ‘I regret people were clamped and suffered distress as a result of this error. We were promised all former signs had been removed. It’s now been brought to our attention this wasn’t the case.’
Ryan Kenny, of Citywatch, said warning notices had been displayed from mid-June: ‘The signs clearly state valid parking permits now need to be on display at all times,’ he said. ‘Failing that would be a breach in the terms and conditions of parking and vehicles would be liable to be immobilised.’
An Iceland spokeswoman said: ‘The car park does not belong to Iceland. As it is not our car park it is out of our control.’
The three remaining signs were to be removed today.