Parking firm confirms it will overturn shopping precinct fines
Date published: 15 October 2020
Photo: Google, DigitalGlobe
The land at the rear of Milnrow Precinct showing the gravel area (right) and the tarmacked area
ParkingEye is to refund or cancel every fine it issued to people who parked behind Milnrow Precinct since November.
The decision has been hailed as a ‘victory for the little people’ by Councillor Andy Kelly, who took the fight to the giant firm on behalf of aggrieved residents and visitors.
The parking giant, working on behalf of Welcome Estates, sent out a glut of penalties covering the lockdown period in August to shocked motorists.
But many complained they had not parked on land owned by Welcome Estates, but a gravel area nearer the entrance.
There was also no photographic evidence of them parking on Welcome Estates land, only of them entering and exiting the car park.
The fines begin at £60 but rise to £100 if not paid within two weeks - and are eventually referred to debt collectors.
Councillor Kelly had taken up the cause of around 50 people who had contacted him via social media, but believes dozens more were likely hit by the fines - some of which have been passed on to bailiffs.
Now Parking Eye says it will rescind or refund all charges as a ‘goodwill gesture’ due to an unresolved issue relating to the ownership of the car park entrance.
Councillor Kelly says the fines have caused much avoidable distress, particularly to those who have since received a debt collector's letter.
But after three months of campaigning, he is delighted that Parking Eye has arrived at the decision.
“It’s a local victory for the little guy,” he said.
“I think quite often these cases go unnoticed, people think they have done something wrong so pay £60 and get on with their lives.
“If you do that to people, and it’s wrong, you continue to get away with it."
He added: “I’m not going to count my chickens until all the parking fines have been refunded. But it’s what we call an ‘outbreak of common sense’.
"It’s a tremendous victory for local people and such a shame it had to come to this level of campaigning to get done what is right.”
The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has seen documents proving that the ‘gravel’ area at the rear of the precinct was sold by the council to a local property firm in March.
However, there appears to be an unresolved issue regarding the ownership of the entrance to the car park.
Although the penalties are issued for unauthorised parking, not trespassing, ParkingEye said this is what has prompted its decision.
A ParkingEye spokesperson said: “This small shopping precinct owners asked us to manage their car parks, to ensure there was fair access to parking for shop customers.
“We were not made aware that there was an ownership dispute around this small area of the rear car park. Now that we have been made aware, as a gesture of goodwill we have cancelled and are refunding all parking charges for this rear car park.
“We have also adjusted our system to ensure that no parking charges will be issued for this area at the rear car park while ownership remains in dispute.”
Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter
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