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Thursday, 28 August 2014

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Anger at parking fines issued on Carlisle retail park

Furious motorists have likened a car parking firm to “notorious wheel clampers” after being wrongly issued large fines.

Andrew Anderson photo
Andrew Anderson

ParkingEye, the company in charge of parking at the St Nicholas Gate retail park car park in Carlisle, has since cancelled two of the fines on appeal, but there are fears other motorists may have paid.

The company has cameras at the entrance and exit to the site, monitoring shoppers to ensure they do not overstay the two-hour free parking.

The cameras are meant to record the time a driver arrives and leaves, calculating the length of stay. Anyone overstaying would automatically receive a fine in the post.

Andrew Anderson, a self-employed damp proofer and general builder, was furious when he received a letter from the parking enforcement company, claiming his van had been parked at St Nicholas Gate for almost 12 hours on March 27.

“It is ridiculous,” the 54-year-old, of Gloucester Road, Carlisle, said. “I dropped my car off at my son’s house in Oswald Street, and then my son drove us in my work van to Easton.

“He cut through the retail park on the way there, with me in the van, and then spent all day with me. I stopped over in Easton and he drove back, cutting back through the retail park.”

Theoretically the car park cameras should have recorded Mr Anderson’s van four times that day and yet his parking fine states the vehicle entered the car park at 7.54am, and left at 7.42pm.

He said: “Fortunately, I’m self-employed and keep all my receipts, so I have a fuel receipt from Hardwicke Circus timed at 8.36am, but most people won’t.”

Mr Anderson added: “I believe they are no different to the wheel clampers."

He was not the only person to be caught out.

Simone Eagling, 37, of Etterby Street, Stanwix, received a fine on March 25 after allegedly parking at the site for more than five hours. She recalled: “I travelled through the car park on my way to my allotment. I then drove back through the car park later in the day. Why would I park at St Nicholas Gate, which is a ten-minute walk, when I can park for free right beside my allotment?”

Unfortunately, Mrs Eagling does not have proof like Mr Anderson, as she says she did not visit any shops. However, in her appeal to ParkingEye she did offer eye witness accounts from fellow allotment holders and family members.

This is not the first time the issue has been raised by this paper. Last month the News & Star reported how Ruth Collins, 52, of Upperby Road, Carlisle, received a £90 fine for parking for almost five hours.

She insisted she had visited the retail park twice, for short periods, and that her car was outside her home the rest of the time.

Paul Allen, of Marina Crescent, Currock, received a fine after he parked in the retail park for about 30 minutes on February 4, and then drove through the site later that day.

A letter from the company claimed he had parked at St Nicholas Gate for six hours and 37 minutes, something he refuted and appealed the fine.

A spokesman for ParkingEye said it operated a “comprehensive and fully audited appeals process” and encouraged anyone who felt they had wrongly been issued with a ticket to appeal.

He added: “Both Ms Eagling and Mr Allen formally appealed to ParkingEye, and after reviewing the evidence they provided, we cancelled their charges.

“In Mr Anderson’s case he has never used our appeals process, so we would urge him to do so.”

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