Shopper's anger over £160 parking demand
A BARNARD Castle woman has welcomed government proposals to “crack down on rogue private parking firms” after she received a demand for £160 for overstaying at a car park in Bishop Auckland.
Kim Richardson says she was shocked when she received a letter of demand from a debt collection agency late last month, which threatened her with court action if she did not pay up £160.
The issue related to her overstaying at the shop’s parking area.
She said: “It is just horrendous. I thought I better pay this because it could affect my credit rating.”
She added that she had not received a parking charge notice (PCN), which, by law has to be sent within 28 days, ahead of receiving the collection agency demand.
Also of concern to Mrs Richardson is the demand for £160 – current law stipulates a maximum charge of £100.
A Government consultation, which was published on August 31, aims to reduce the charge to between £40 and £80 depending on the seriousness of the offence.
In announcing the proposal communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: “These new measures are a victory for the millions of motorists across the country. They will put a stop once and for all to rogue parking firms using aggressive tactics and handing out unfair parking tickets with no right to appeal.”
The current rules also include a grace period of ten minutes before a late fine, such as the one given to Mrs Richardson, can be issued.
She said: “I don’t even know if I got that [the grace period] because they won’t even say how long I overstayed. I doubt they have even taken notice of that because me and my husband are very careful about the times – I have never had a car parking charge in my life.
“They threaten to take you to court. They threaten your credit rating. They put fear into people to get their money. It is so upsetting.
“Local people should be made aware of this because a lot of people shop in Bishop Auckland. This could happen to a pensioner or a vulnerable person and they would be terrified into paying £160. That would be their pension gone.”
After writing to the private parking company, Mrs Richardson received a letter of apology last week. It read: “It has come to our attention that you have been sent a letter from Debt Recovery Plus.
“The letter was sent out in error and we would ask that you ignore this correspondence.
“There is no further action to be taken from debt recovery and the charge has been cancelled with them.”
However, the letter also said an offence had been committed and a parking charge notice would be sent in due course. Mrs Richardson said she would appeal the PCN should it arrive.
She urged people to take advice and be aware of the rules if they receive a similar demand.