Wednesday, 23 March 2016

ParkingEye and planning consent (or lack thereof)

[Guest Blog]

As we all know ParkingEye just doesn’t bother to comply with the advertisement regulations to obtain consent BEFORE it erects its signs and that is a criminal offence under regulation 30 of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisement)(England) Regulations 2007.

When challenged on this some time ago the BPA defended its Member’s criminal conduct by an email of the 4th August 2014 from Mr Peter Beasley.

This provided a number of interesting explanations -

1. ParkingEye could not legally apply for advertisement consent – (Comment: then we find that it has been doing so for each Planning Authority that now requires such an application.

2. Its the landowners fault. (Comment - Yes they blame their client )

3. Planning Authorities won’t take any action so we may as well wait until they complain and then put an application in. (Comment: Ahh if only we had the luxury of picking and choosing which crimes we will not commit and which we will)

Now we have an even better excuse. Here is an extract from  an email of the 9th March 2016 from the Charity that owns the Moorgate Retail Park in Bury (no advertisement consent nor planning permission for their cameras.)

“Parking eye have advised that the displaying of signs which highlight the terms and conditions of use of the car parking facility at the retail park is a legal requirement for private car parks.

As a responsible operator, if they want to ensure that motorists abide by rules concerning, for instance, how long they may stay and how much they will be charged, they must display those conditions under consumer protection legislation.

As far as committing a crime at the site goes, Parkingeye recently sought advice on the topic and they have been advised independently that due to the nature of the signs and their purpose, they  are in the position that, given that the displaying of such signage is an obligation under the law, it will be exempt from normal planning protocols on advertising consent.

Because of the above, Parkingeye are of the view that no crime is being committed in this regard.”

So the latest is that as the PoFA requires them to have signs they don’t need to comply with the 2007 Advertisement Regulations.

Comment -
1. There is nothing in the PoFA which indicates that it overrides all other legislation.
2. PoFA requires ParkingEye to obtain registered keeper data but that does not mean that Regulation 27 of the Road Vehicles (Registration and licensing) Regulations 2002  does not apply – ask the DVLA
3. Can all planning Authorities up and down the land be wrong

Then we have to ask ourselves why does a Charity take its legal advice from ParkingEye. It is required by law to take its own independent legal advice.

Shall we wait and see what other tripe ParkingEye come up with to justify its failure to comply with the law?

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

ParkingEye system at Yeovil Hospital unfit for purpose

Following the Prankster's blog yesterday, more broken ANPR systems at hospitals have come to light.

This newspaper report in the Western Gazette reveals the story of two motorists who visited Yeovil Hospital. Both motorists visited the hospital twice, but ParkingEye's shambolic systems thought the motorists had both had one long stay. Worryingly, when the motorists informed ParkingEye of the problem, instead of sorting out their error, ParkingEye stuck their head firmly in the sand and pretended nothing was wrong, accusing the motorists of lying.

Luckily the hospital seem to be well aware that the system they commissioned is not fit for purpose, and quashed both parking charges.

Prankster Note

It is well documented that ParkingEye's systems are error-prone, so it is especially worrying that significant numbers of Hospitals are using companies like ParkingEye who put their profits ahead of truth and fairness.

ParkingEye regard hospitals as cash cows and rake in huge profits. Once FoI request revealed that ParkingEye were issuing charges at over £1,000,000 a year in just one NHS trust. The trust eventually kicked them out due to the huge number of problems created by the system.

Hospitals using ParkingEye are acting in defiance of government recommendations; it is clear why the government made this recommendation - because such systems are grossly unfair to motorists. it is not clear why so many hospitals ignore the guidelines.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Monday, 7 March 2016

ParkingEye lose in court - accuse driver's evidence of being unreliable, but their own evidence destroys their case

07/03/2016 Case B7FC00H1 – Parking Eye v Mrs B, before District Judge McKinnell at St Albans

This was a Barnet Hospital case, where the defendant had gone to pick up her daughter, and spent 34 minutes driving around the access roads trying to find out which department her daughter was likely to be in. She had parked for a brief period in the 20 minute drop off zone, but never parked in any of the Patient & Visitor car parks. ParkingEye alleged that she did, and therefore owed the Hospital £2, which ParkingEye escalated to £100.

There was a previous hearing in December ,which was carried over to March. After this hearing, Mrs B contacted the Prankster, who enlisted the help of Barnet resident Mr Mustard, usually known for his expertise in Council tickets.

Some excellent detective work by Mr Mustard proved the ticket should never have been issued. Mr Mustard made a meticulous site visit, photographing and documenting all aspects of the car park.

This is the photograph ParkingEye filed as evidence claiming that it was of Mrs B leaving the Patient & Visitor Car park.

Mr Mustard noticed the writing on the road. There is only one place in the hospital with writing like this - the 20 minute free stay car park. 

ParkingEye's own evidence was essentially worthless. Their pictures show the vehicle entering the Patient & Visitor Car Park but leaving a completely different car park!

Mr Mustard could not attend the hearing, so at short notice Bargepole offered to be Mrs B's lay representative. He took Mrs B's rather unstructured defence and prepared a concise summary for the judge, concentrating on the fact that no contravention occurred.

In court ParkingEye's representative Mr Harris, said that, as Mrs B’s initial defence on the MCOL form denied ever visiting Barnet Hospital, and then she changed it when she received the photos, her evidence should be treated as unreliable.

He cross-examined Mrs B, and tried to suggest that her subsequent witness statement, in which she denied ever parking, stating that she was driving around the entire time, was made up after discussing the case with her daughter, and 83-year old mother, who had been with her at the time, so it wasn’t a contemporaneous account. Mrs B stuck to her guns, and answered in a positive and assertive manner, to her credit.

Bargepole then pointed out that PE’s photos showed the vehicle entering from one part of the complex, and exiting from a different part, and did not provide any evidence that she had parked for any length of time, or at all.

The Judge sent the parties out for 20 minutes while she considered her verdict, and then went through the case in her judgment.

She found Mrs B to be a credible witness, and accepted her evidence that she never parked. ParkingEye had not made out their case to prove that she parked for 34 minutes, or at all, and the claim would fail on that basis. She also commented that ParkingEye's signage only talks about ‘parking’, and doesn’t claim that the clock starts ticking once you pass the ANPR cameras.

Costs were awarded to the defendant of £47.50 for a half day off work, plus £7.50 parking, total £55.

Bargepole's comment: the lesson to learn from this for anyone receiving a court claim, is don’t rush to put a load of rubbish down as your defence as soon as you receive the claim; acknowledge service and take the full 28 days.

Prankster Notes

Mr Mustard recreated Mrs B's journey and then made a subject access request to ParkingEye. The results show he was detected 42 times by cameras as he traversed the site.

When Mrs B made a similar request ParkingEye stonewalled her and refused to supply the data. The Prankster believes the data would have backed up her claim to have been driving around the site and that ParkingEye  should therefore have vacated the claim.

Instead, they spent more than £500 pursuing a claim for an underpayment £2, which it turns out was never owed in the first place.

It is clear that the ParkingEye system at Barnet hospital is unreliable and is issuing tickets which it has no rights to issue. Moreover The Prankster believes that ParkingEye are, or should be, fully aware of this from analysing the camera tracks of Mrs B's journey.

It is also clear that the system at Barnet Hospital is in direct contravention of government guidelines, which state that:
Contracts should not be let on any basis that incentivises additional charges, eg ‘income from parking charge notices only’
Hospital car parks are huge sources of revenue for ParkingEye, and The Prankster believes this is a serious abuse which needs rectifying. Alternative methods of fairly managing hospital car parks should be used instead, with parking companies getting a management fee only and not a fee based on issuing parking charges.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Sunday, 6 March 2016

What happens when greed and automation misses out the human element

[This is a guest blog]

When most everyone decides that enough is enough and they have to sue someone in the Small Claims Court the parties tend to know each other. They have lived in each others pockets engaged in their dispute for quite some time and know each other very well. However, when a Parking Company decides to sue a motorist they do not know that person. So something important is missing, and very personal, from their knowledge.
Sue someone with a mental health problem, when you don’t know them, and you don’t appreciate that they ignore your demands because they simply do not understand what is taking place or how important it is to deal with the matter. You get Judgment and then enforce that court decision and perhaps get Bailiffs to take their goods away to sell them to get your debt paid..........and still that Defendant does not understand what is going on.
ParkingEye is presently suing someone with dysphasia. Look it up and you will see that this creates a number of difficulties as a result of a defect in the brain leading to poor memory, a difficulty in logical reasoning and a poor understanding of language and reasoning. Broadly, when ParkingEye serve court papers on folk with this problem the motorist doesn’t appreciate their importance and the necessity to deal with them and ParkingEye get Judgment in default.
The CPRs (Rule 21) indicate that such individuals are “Protected Persons” and that no action can be taken in proceedings, after a claim has commenced, until that defendant has a Litigation Friend appointed to assist them. ParkingEye don’t know their victim so, in the absence of a response from the Defendant, they press ahead and get judgment in contravention of those “Protected Person” protocols.
Then someone has to try and sort it out before ParkingEye goes too far.
If ParkingEye used pay on exit systems then there would not be a problem with over-parking and those who need extra help would not be penalised because of their disability. 
How many people are in this position and does ParkingEye care or is the money more important?

Prankster Note

Parking court cases are fairly unique in that the two parties have no contact whatsoever and know next to nothing about each other. If there is no response from the motorist, parking companies have automatic systems that escalate all the way from parking overstay to enforcing a default judgment with minimal human intervention after the charge is first issued.

With ParkingEye issuing over 30,000 claims a year, it is therefore inevitable that cases like this will occur.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster