Angry traders and residents say a traffic warden flouted parking rules while ticketing motorists.
Businesses in Crewkerne have criticised a new parking enforcement regime, branding it overzealous and claiming it has harmed trade.
And last week they were infuriated when one of the new parking officers apparently broke the rules – overstaying a time limit and taking up two bays with one car.
Resident Julia Henry said: “One morning last week, the guy parked outside the coffee shop in Crewkerne for over an hour. When I asked him about it he said he had special rights.
“It’s total hypocrisy. He has probably collected hundreds of pounds in fines from the people of the town.
“These traffic enforcement officers seem to be really hampering businesses.
“This traffic warden was ticketing someone parked in a 30-minute bay and his own car was there for an hour and took up two spaces, obstructing trade. It’s not helping businesses.”
Adam Loder who owns Number 5 the deli and Number 7 the cafe in Crewkerne said: “The parking enforcement officer came and took up two parking spaces right outside my business for upwards of 60 minutes while he scoured the town for other parking infringements.
“Parking enforcement is an easy way for the council to raise money given current economic constraints, but making life more difficult for people in hard times does not help at all. “All they are doing is driving shoppers out of town. In no way does it encourage people to come to Crewkerne or any small town, which is what they are also trying to do.”
Steve Smith, owner of Dailys, said: “You do need parking wardens to keep things moving on, but I have customers who have told me they have been slapped with a fine for overstaying by five minutes.
“I think a happy medium needs to be found so people have a reasonable amount of time for free.”
Somerset County Council took over responsibility for parking enforcement from the police in June.
A spokesman said: “Vehicles used by parking wardens and some other council officers who require their vehicles to carry out their duties are exempt from most parking restrictions. They are required to park at all times with consideration.
“Devices used by our parking wardens to issue fixed penalty notices will not allow a ticket to be printed until the statutory observation period has been completed.
“We must point out, however, that for some more serious contraventions there is no observation period required.
“The council is always willing to consider requests from the community to introduce or review on-street parking restrictions.”