Residents have been stung by “nightmare” free parking rules in Croxley Green with a business owner saying the plan has "spectacularly backfired."

The Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) in the village was amended in January to add one hour free parking and paid stays up to four hours near Croxley Station and Watford Road.

Three Rivers District Council said the changes would give residents “greater flexibility when visiting the shops and local amenities” and had improved signs following complaints.

But residents have complained of receiving penalty notices after they did not enter their car registrations into the nearby machine when stopping for under an hour.

One resident said: “What a nightmare!”, while another commented: “I had no warning of this and got a fine when walking my dog. Absolutely ridiculous people have to get a ticket to walk a dog by the Moors now.”

New notices were put up near the bays last week explaining the rule change while the references to one hour of free parking were removed from the original signs.

Linda Anderson, owner of The Kitchen in Watford Road, said online: “It’s hard to believe that an initiative intended to help local businesses and their customers could backfire quite so spectacularly!”

Linda added: “We have a system that no one understands and which benefits no one”, with “incomprehensible signage and one pay and display machine hidden”.

A Three Rivers District Council spokesperson said the short-stay scheme had been implemented following support from residents and local businesses.

They added: “The scheme gives greater flexibility to shoppers and visitors who can now park for up to four hours including one hour free. The signage for this scheme has been installed in compliance with traffic sign regulations.

“In response to requests, the council has installed supplementary signs to remind users to register their vehicle details into the machine when using these short stay bays – even if staying for the free hour.”

The spokesperson confirmed that permanent signs will be installed and the visibility of parking machines will be improved.

The parking rules were changed earlier this year after local businesses launched a petition asking for better flexibility and longer-term parking around Watford Road and the Red House pub announced its plans to introduce automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) last year.