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Park and ride site sparks ads row

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Councils are weighing up taking legal action against a commercial website that is reproducing local authority web pages alongside advertisements.

The site, parkandride.net, uses pages from almost 100 different council websites to create a national database of park and ride facilities. However, the positioning of adverts on the same page as council logos has led to complaints from some members of the public.

One website manager said his council was only made aware of parkandride.net when he received “irate complaints” from people objecting to the way the council appeared to be placing adverts on its own website.

Parkandride.net was asked to remove the link from its site, but told the council it would have to pay a “yearly ad-free subscription” - a one-off charge for the company to re-create the park and ride information with a link to the council’s website - or accept the advertisements.

“It is very fly-by-night,” the official told LGC. “They are making money off a public service website.”

He said parkandride.net was breaching the council’s copyright because the authority’s website terms and conditions for reuse stipulated material could not be reproduced next to adverts.

“I am all for going for this guy with the lawyers,” he said. “It is one guy who hasn’t a clue about the legalities of copyright and how that applies on the web.”

Ian Pritchard, one of the designers behind the parkandride.net site, said the adverts, and the request for payment from councils to make their section of the site ads-free, was made “to make it worthwhile updating and to pay for the hosting [of the website”.

“It is not masses of money,” he added. “It is not enough to keep a company afloat.” The aim was to raise awareness of park and ride sites and not to make money, he said.

Since being contacted by LGC, the site has added a disclaimer making clear it is not affiliated with councils.

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