The Prankster has seen a petition regarding the reduction of parking charges from 3 hours to 2 at Borehamwood retail park.
At the time of blogging, the petition had 723 signatures and needed another 27.
The local newspaper has also reported on the change.
The Prankster has not seen ParkingEye's contract with the landowner, but it may be similar to the contract with Riverside Retail Park, Chelmsford, where ParkingEye pay £1,000 a week for the right to issue parking tickets. It may be that the residents of Borehamwood are too well behaved, causing ParkingEye to make a loss because they cannot issue enough charges.
ParkingEye often have a clause in their contract which allows them to decrease the time limit if they are not issuing enough charges for the site to be economically viable. Here is an example from the Corporation Street Preston Site.
ParkingEye may amend the time limit or tariff with the consent of the customer (not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed). In circumstances where consent is refused in accordance with this clause [...] ParkingEye shall have the right to terminate the services at the site without liability to the customer giving 30 days written notice.It is clear this change is not in the best interests of the retailers or motorists as it has been apparently introduced without consultation with these parties (although the Prankster notes that there is contention on this issue and that some comments imply that Debenhams asked for the change). If it was true that the retailers were not informed, this leaves the most likely reason the times were reduced was to increase revenue for ParkingEye. In some cases ParkingEye have a revenue share deal with the landowner, so it may also have been introduced to increase revenue for the landowner.
Where parking conditions change at a site, the parking company should, according to the British Parking Association Ltd code of practice, provide extra signs warning of the change and a grace period.
Where there is any change in the terms and conditions that materially affects the motorist then you should make these clear on your signage. Where such changes impose liability where none previously existed then you should consider a grace period to allow regular visitors to the site to adjust and familiarise themselves with the changes.It is not clear whether ParkingEye provided signage to indicate that terms had changed, or whether they allowed a grace period for adjustment. The Prankster welcomes any information Borehamwood residents can provide. Not obeying the BPA Ltd code of practice recommendations would make it clear that the changes were for monetary gain and not for the benefit of shoppers and shopkeepers.
ParkingEye's profits dipped from 30% of turnover in 2012 to 7% in 2013. They need to increase profits back to 31% in 2014 to meet the levels predicted by Capita when they purchased ParkingEye in 2013. The most obvious way they can do this is to issue more parking charges per site.
ParkingEye have previously had trouble at this site, and have often issued charges for overstays where motorists have actually visited the site twice. The Borehamwood times have reported on this several times:
Erica Marks had a problem in 2009. ParkingEye issued charges, despite Ms Marks having multiple witnesses that she was elsewhere at a Pilates class at the time
Nicola Grimes was also charged for visiting twice.
Mr Vincent's grandson was fined even though he was at work at the time.
A number of other motorists also complained they were fined for double visits.
Terry Williams had this problem in October 2010.
ParkingEye's ANPR system is obviously fatally flawed. The most likely reason is that their cameras are either sited too low, or too far away from the capture point. This means that vehicles can be obscured by other vehicles or pedestrians when entering or leaving the site. If the passage of the vehicle is hidden like this it will not be recorded on the system and ParkingEye will believe the motorist has had one long stay.
The picture below shows an actual capture from ParkingEye's system. It is clear that if either car were slightly to one side, or if the car in front was higher (or a van), then the numberplate would be obscured. In that case, the passage of the car would not be recorded and ParkingEye could be fooled into thinking a double visit was one long stay.
Ironically in the case in 2013, ParkingEye are reported as saying:
We would advise all motorists who break the terms and conditions to make use of our audited appeals process and then, if needed, POPLA, so that they do not end up needing to pay these additional costs. ParkingEye, despite its current success in county courts, does not wish to resolve outstanding parking charges in this manner.Since then ParkingEye have changed their tune somewhat, having lost at POPLA in every single known case where their charges were claimed not to be a genuine pre-estimate of loss, and having had the lead adjudicator of POPLA write a special 17 page report explaining why their charges are not valid. ParkingEye have even stopped defending POPLA cases bought on these grounds.
Nowadays ParkingEye absolutely refuse to give out a POPLA code once court proceedings have started unless ordered to by the court.
The Parking Prankster