Thursday, 17 July 2014

MET Parking deceive motorists for years. DVLA stick fingers in ears and make la la la noises

One dogged motorist has unearthed a scam MET Parking have been operating for several years on the Chiltern railway.

Chiltern Railway car parks are railway property and railway byelaws apply. This means that drivers can be fined for breaching the byelaws, and that the fine is backed by statute. Any legal action must be started within 6 months, and although the maximum fine for breaking byelaws is £2,500, in practice most magistrates impose around £50. This money goes to the crown, and not to MET Parking. The flip side is that the Protection of Freedoms Act (POFA) 2012 schedule 4 does not apply as the car parks are not 'relevant land'; this means that the keeper is not liable - only the driver is (unless the particular byelaws specify the owner may also be liable). Depending on the byelaws then, 'I was not driving' can be an absolute defence, as long as you can prove this, or the judge believes you on the balance of probabilities if the proof is not conclusive.

However, MET Parking have been issuing huge numbers of tickets, trying to deceive the motorist that keeper liability applies when it does not. Dishonestly making false representations, such that the keeper is liable under POFA 2012, with the intention of making a financial gain appears to be in contravention of section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006. Any person to whom such a statement has been made should consider reporting MET Parking to the police.

One motorist realised something fishy was happening after he had successfully appealed several tickets to the independent appeals service, POPLA. When he tried to appeal a subsequent ticket, MET Parking said they had withdrawn the right to use POPLA as the ticket was issued under the railway byelaws. The motorist pointed out that this was not what the original charge said, and has been fighting to find the true situation ever since.

He asked the DVLA to investigate. After a few false starts they finally shifted reluctantly into gear, and found that MET Parking were acting incorrectly by stating keeper liability applied. They found that 1025 tickets had been incorrectly issued at the West Ruislip car park since 1 October 2012, which is when POFA 2012 commenced. Of these, 589 were still outstanding, which MET Parking then cancelled. Another 90 had been cancelled following appeals. However, the remaining 346 had already been paid, and the DVLA refused to make MET Parking refund the motorists.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. MET Parking have around 20 car parks on the Chiltern line alone, so the number of incorrectly issued tickets is likely to be tens of thousands, which means that MET parking may have trousered £1,000,000 under false pretences.

The DVLA have to share responsibility for this mes up. Although they told the motorist they only knew of this situation in January 2014, this has turned out to be a lie; freedom of information requests showed they were dithering about what to do back in July 2013, and were fully aware what was going on.

They continued to pass on keeper information to MET parking without attempting to police the situation at all. Although in the past parking companies have been suspended from access for stating that keeper liability applied when it did not, the DVLA have of late taken a more business oriented approach to these transgressions. They now prefer to keep their snouts in the trough and the money flowing in, whatever the parking companies do. Wheras it seems that the DVLA feels a motorist can be penalised £100 for being 1 minute late or have a wheel an inch over a line, the same does not apply for parking companies. Obtaining money under false pretences is perfectly acceptable as long as the parking company keeps the money rolling in. This cannot be right. The DVLA cannot keep absolving themselves of the responsibility to police the sector; there needs to be a balance, which currently is sadly lacking.

Both the BPA Ltd and the DVLA initially tried to bury this complaint and it was only through perseverance that anything happened at all.

The data appears to be provided in breach of MET Parking's KADOE contract with the DVLA which allows data to be provided for the following purposes:
B2. Purpose For Which Data Is Provided
B2.1. The DVLA shall provide each requested item of Data to the Customer
via the KADOE Service for the Reasonable Cause of enabling the
Customer to:
a) seek recovery of unpaid Parking Charges in accordance with the
Accredited Trade Association Code of Practice, and using the
procedure in Schedule 4 to the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 
(where the vehicle was parked on private land in England or Wales on
a particular date); and
b) otherwise seek recovery from a driver of unpaid Parking Charges in
accordance with the Accredited Trade Association Code of Practice
(where the vehicle was parked on private land in Scotland or Northern
by that driver on a particular date, or where the Customer has
chosen not to pursue, or is not in a position to pursue the vehicle
keeper by utilising conditions in Schedule 4 of the Protection of
Freedoms Act 2012). 
As the vehicles were not parked in Scotland or Northern Ireland, and as POFA 2012 schedule 4 was not being used, then the data has been obtained in breach of the KADOE contract.

Such widescale abuse, which continues to this day, should lead to a suspension to MET Parking for breaching their contract. However, the DVLA appear to be doing nothing.

The situation remains unresolved, with thousands of motorists out of pocket. It is a sorry state of affairs that civil servants can have such blatant disregard for the rights of motorists and are prepared to turn a blind eye to dodgy goings-on on an industrial scale.

If you have paid a parking ticket to MET Parking at a railway car park between 1 October 2012, and January 2014 then you should write to MET Parking for a refund. If they refuse, then the case officer at the DVLA you need to get in touch with is Liz Symods. If you feel your MP should be made aware what has been going on, then is a good reference site. If you believe a criminal act has occurred then inform the police.

MET Parking
PO Box 64168

Byelaws v POFA 2012

Action must be stared within 6 months. The railway company must bring the action.
The amount can be an arbitrary fine
The fine goes to the crown
A maximum of  £2,500 applies, although in practice most magistrates set the fine at around £50
The driver is liable. Depending on the byelaw, the owner may also be liable
The BPA code of practice requires that POPLA be used as an independent appeals service, and does not provide for exemptions for railways car parks

POFA 2012
Action must be started within 6 years. The landowner must bring the action. Depending on the precise nature of the contract between landowner and operator, the operator may also bring the action.
The amount must be a genuine pre-estimate of loss, if for breach of contract
The parking charge goes to MET parking
A maximum of the amount of the Notice to Driver/Keeper applies, which is set to £100 by the BPA unless special exemption is applied for
The driver is liable. If POFA 2012 conditions are fulfilled, the keeper may also be liable
The BPA code of practice requires that POPLA be used as an independent appeals service,

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. The evidence seems pretty damning so where are the responsible ministers I wonder.

    Of course the DPA should also be invoked as they are giving out information when there is no right to do so.

  3. I'm not clear where exactly (i.e. town(s)) all this happened but isn't this a REALLY tasty morsel for the local press??

    1. Chiltern Railways, as the name suggests, covers the Chiltern area so that's High Wycombe, Aylesbury, Beaconsfield etc, then through Gerrards Cross, Denham, Ruislip, Wembley terminating at London Marylebone.

      The real culprits in all this are the DVLA, and the men in charge of Data Sharing are Robert Toft and Kevin Watts, who deserve to be named and shamed for their complicity in these fraudulent acts.

  4. I don't get this argument. Read the contract. Section 2.1(b) allows for data to be requested "...where the Customer has chosen not to pursue, or is not in a position to pursue, the vehicle keeper by utilising conditions in Schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012". Point (b) is not just about Scotland and Northern Ireland. It also allows for sites in England where POFA cannot be used. So, where is the breach of the KADOE contract???

  5. OK I get it now. The Kadoe contract only allows the driver to be pursued.