Shoppers are being warned about new parking restrictions at a retail park after some drivers were caught out and fined.

The fines are being handed out to motorists who appear to be unwittingly breaching restrictions at Century Retail Park in Watford.

Parking at the car park is still free but drivers can now only stay for a maximum of three hours rather than four, with the reduction believed to have been introduced at the very least in early December.

Fines have also been given to motorists who have parked outside of prohibited hours.

Ibrar Khan, who lives in Croxley Green, says he was given a £100 fine by operator UK Parking Control Ltd after he stayed for three hours and 31 minutes on Boxing Day.

He said: "I never usually stay that long but it was Boxing Day. The parking company sent us a charge but I have appealed it.

"They are supposed to advertise properly that there has been a change in the restrictions. There should be temporary signage at the entrance alerting drivers and a transition period to allow drivers to familiarise themselves with the changes.

"I will not be visiting Century Park for a while now which means businesses will be losing out. And I'll be checking parking signs every time now to see if they have changed."

Another shopper, who did not want to be named, also received a £100 fine after she parked between three and four hours on December 21.

She said: "It's difficult to spot the new restrictions on the sign. I've never had a parking ticket until now.

"On social media, people are reporting similar stories. I really would have expected clear signs to have been put up outlining the changes. I think this is all so underhand."

The new restrictions are signposted at the car park but both shoppers feel they should be clearer and say they wanted to raise awareness of their cases to prevent others from being caught out.

Another restriction confusing drivers is that parking is prohibited outside of the hours of 7.30am until 10.30pm even though KFC does not close until 11pm and Aldi was open from 7am over the festive period.

Watford mayor Peter Taylor confirmed to the Observer he had been contacted by a "few local people" who had been fined after visiting Century Park.

He added: "One was regarding a fine that the driver believes was issued incorrectly and the others were about the recent time limit change that they were unaware of.

"Although this is a private car park I have written to the parking contactor about these fines and I have suggested that signage is looked at."

Update: Century Retail Park owner Royal London Asset Management has issued the following statement to the Observer (January 17).

"Century Park Watford is busy with popular national retailers, and the car park spaces exist for the benefit of customers using the retail facilities.

"Following the recent installation of signage by UKPC listing changes to parking hours, Royal London Asset Management (RLAM) has contacted UKPC to ensure that the hours of operation mirror the opening hours across the retail property. RLAM  will seek to ensure that additional signage is placed on site to make customers aware of the updated parking hours.

"RLAM is working with UKPC to cancel any penalty charge notices issued as a result of these changes and to reimburse fines paid."