A BUNGLING council has admitted overcharging 12,000 motorists for using its car parks.
Southampton City Council is now trying to refund all the drivers which it forced to pay evening parking charges which had not been legally authorised.
Charges vary but with the smallest possible fee being 50p, the council has wrongly charged drivers at least £6,000.
The red-faced authority has now displayed notices around the city's car parks in a bid to refund the money that was wrongly taken.
Most fees are set to be automatically repaid – but 2,500 need drivers to apply for their cash back.
Evening parking charges in the city started on November 1 and around 12,000 were paid until November 12 when Southampton City Council realised the required new legal order had not been sealed.
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Transport cabinet member Councillor Eamonn Keogh told the Daily Echo: “We’re naturally sorry that this has occurred.
"We ensured that an investigation took place to establish how this happened with relevant measures put in place to avoid a repeat of any such errors in the future.
"We have also endeavoured to ensure that, where feasible, appropriate actions have been taken to remedy the mistake.”
Some 9,500 pay and display and transactions made via the PayByPhone app are now in the process of being refunded.
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The council said it may take around two weeks for the refund process to be completed.
A Southampton City Council spokesperson said: "The council formally apologises to all affected customers for the error, which was the result of officer oversight.
"The council has reviewed processes to ensure this does not occur again."
Posting an image of a sign that had gone up on Facebook a Tory group called “Southampton Conservatives in Millbrook” wrote: “It would have been better not to put up parking charges in the first place!” along with the hashtag #LabourFail.
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