CONFUSING signs and hefty fines have left shoppers fuming in one Hampshire town.

New parking charges in Totton have left drivers baffled – and many have been slapped with £100 penalty fines.

Deceptive signs at Totton Retail Park, in Commercial Road, declare free parking for 90 minutes. But motorists must still display a free ticket from the pay and display machines in their vehicle.

Drivers who have been hit with the steep fine have contacted the Daily Echo, claiming the signs are unclear.

Signs state the first 90 minutes of parking is free at the site – home to Lidl, Argos Extra, Jollye’s Petfood Superstore and £-Stretcher.

But small print underneath states a parking ticket is still needed to show what time you arrived.

Candy Porter, 46, from Totton, was stung within five minutes of arriving.

She said: “I’ve got two children and £100 is a significant amount of money – that’s a week’s shopping for my family, it’s ridiculous.”

Meanwhile, Clare Collins, 28, from Shirley, was also caught out by the quick work of the car park attendant.

“I saw that it said you get 90 minutes free, I even saw the attendant watch me walk into the shop,” she said. “There were crowds of people getting angry about it. It’s saying that you have to get a ticket, even to park there for free.”

Staff at the retail park’s shops support the parking charges, but have resorted to displaying extra signs themselves to make the rules clear to their customers.

Vikki Barnes, manager of Jollye’s, said: “We have been reminding people to get a ticket, and we’ve put up extra signs in the store.

“I agree with the system.

Before, when it was two hours’ free parking and was not patrolled, people would park there all day and go off into Southampton, not leaving anywhere for our customers to park.”

Barrie Douglass, general manager of Premier Parking Solutions,which owns the car park, said: “We have introduced the pay and display system to discourage that.

“The signs are very clear and people need to read them properly. We go over and above what is required in terms of the signage.

“The £100 excess charge is in line with the British Parking Association guidelines and it is reduced if it’s paid promptly.”