Photo: West Street Car Park
A Southport councillor has called for private car park operators to start acting reasonably when pursuing cases based on automatic numberplate recognition cameras.
Today’s national Times newspaper cites a private Southport car park as one of the worst in the country for trying to extract money from drivers who haven’t even parked. Driver Jude Ramoutar, 52, told The Times that she spent ten minutes circling a car park to find a space before reading the operators’ sign and paying using her mobile phone.
Ms Ramatour then paid for two hours and returned to her vehicle after one hour and 58 minutes. But she received a penalty demand for £100 through the post a few weeks later, with the car park operator claiming that she had overstayed by ten minutes. Her car had been captured on camera,with the operators claiming that the time that she had spent circling the car park searching for a space and paying was part of the service.
The incident which took place on September 24, at West Street car par in, Southport, which is operated by ParkingEye, is now the subject of an appeal.
Ms Ramoutar said: “The whole process took some time. I made sure I was back in time and left. But then I got a letter telling me I’d overstayed by ten minutes and owed them £100. I was completely shocked; it just never occurred to me that I could be charged for trying to find a parking space.”
ParkingEye said its terms and conditions were clearly displayed.
But Southport town centre Lib Dem Councillor Tony Dawson points out that these private car park operators have no right to ‘fine’ anybody.
He says: “They can assert drivers’ agreement to a private contract, that is all. And like all contracts, they can pursue the matter to court if they want to. But they have to show that they have been reasonable.
“This is not an isolated case. Last year a man fought and won a similar case in the civil courts after being handed a £100 penalty for circling a car park without having first stopped and bought a ticket.”
Councillor Dawson appealed to ParkingEye and all similar operators to behave more reasonably when they have clear evidence of proper payment being made.
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