Sunday, 15 January 2017

Lowther Street Carlisle car park - Smart Parking

Guest Blog

This car park has an interesting problem...or is it a deliberate tactic?

The ticket machine requires you to put in your registration number. The ticket then prints the correct registration number you input on the ticket it delivers, but back at Smart Parking HQ their IT shows a slightly different registration number. Well Smart say it does. Smart then pursue the driver for not putting the correct vehicle registration number into the machine - even if you pay for the amount of parking you use.

Don't use the car park if your reg number include 01; 02; 03; 04; 05; 06; 07; 08 ;09. Smart Parking IT at their HQ reveals that you input O1;O2; O3; O4: etc. Yes, the zero becomes a capital "O".

Having improperly obtained your personal data from the DVLA - because when they apply for your data they somehow manage to give the DVLA your 04; or 06 or whatever number correctly rather than O4/O6 or whatever, they then demand money. If you don't pay then they process your data on to Debt Recovery Plus who just add about £60 on to the alleged debt.

If you use a Smart Parking managed car park keep your parking ticket so that you can show the court that you inputted the correct registration number. Smart Parking seem to blame the motorist for the failure of their IT.

This has been sent out so that the powers that be may take action over this conduct

DVLA Letter

Dear Sir,

Re Smart Parking limited (CC to Hannah Johnson at Debt Recovery Plus)

I would advise that the above company obtained my personal data from your office on or about the 25th May 2016. It was alleged by this company that
1. I did not pay for the time I parked, and/or
2. That I inputted the incorrect registration number of my vehicle

The claim was wholly without foundation such that under the terms of your KADOE contract with Smart Parking it was not entitled to my personal data. 

Smart Parking subsequently further processed my personal data, unlawfully, by passing those details to Debt Recovery Plus. I have since had about half a dozen letters demanding money and making unwarranted demands for payment.

I am forwarding a copy of the Notice to Keeper and my response to the claim. You will observe that the correct registration number was inputted into their machine as evidenced from the ticket that their machine issued. You will also observe that I paid for my parking and left before my time was up.

Smart Parking are clearly in breach of your contract and you were tricked into processing my data without just cause. I trust that you will take appropriate action against the Company  - preferably their suspension from any further access to keeper data until it has learnt to comply with the rules

To DRP /Smart Parking

Having unlawfully obtained my personal data and then unlawfully processed it you are in breach of the provisions of the Data Protection Act. You are also misusing this data by claiming that I am indebted to you when you have no lawful reason to do so.  

S13 of the Data Protection Act 1998 states that
(1) An individual who suffers damage by reason of any contravention by a data controller of any of the requirements of this Act is entitled to compensation from the data controller for that damage 
(2) An individual who suffers distress by reason of any contravention by a data controller of any of the requirements of this Act is entitled to compensation from the data controller for that distress if –
(a) the individual also suffers damage by reason of the contravention,, or
(b) the contravention relates to the processing of personal data for the special purposes.

The regular unwarranted demands from you and DRP are clearly distressing and for which I am entitled to compensation. I am sure that you will have had the case of VCS v Phillip, in the Liverpool County Court drawn to your attention. The motorist there also had an invalid claim against him. The judge awarded £250 for a breach of the Data Protection Act. 

Please therefore remit the sum of £250 to myself within the next 14 days. I will accept this sum in full and final settlement of my claim under the DPA. My claim under the Protection from Harassment Act remains outstanding. I reserve the right to take legal action without further notice if this amount is not paid.

TO the ICO

Please note that both Smart Parking and DRP process data unlawfully and unfairly. Can you please take appropriate action against both companies. I refer you to my letter to the DVLA (attached) which sets out the situation).

TO the BPA

Your Member Smart Parking is in breach of the terms and conditions of its membership of the BPA and I trust that you will take appropriate action rather than support this wholly unlawful conduct. Preferably to terminate their membership unless this is the kind of standard you support. I refer you to my letter to the DVLA (attached) which sets out the situation).

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster


  1. Just issue the claim form, MCOL, boom, have it. I would forget the small claims track and ask for fast track, instruct counsel and go for full costs.

  2. I'm not quite sure whether a court would allow breach of DPA in this case if smart parking allege that their system wrongly recorded an 'O' instead of a '0'. It would be reasonable to claim they have a legally valid reason to obtain such details as that's what the system shows. Though if they continue to pursue you after providing evidence that there was no contravention, then I agree a claim for DPA could be made.

    To bolster a breach of DPA claim in this instance it may be wise to also claim negligence as a further cause of action. The particulars for negligence would be something like 'failing to institute or maintain an adequate system to ensure that all entries were accurate and complete upon registration' or words to that effect

    1. I think you may have to demonstrate "resultant damage" for a claim under negligence.

    2. Not necessarily financial damage however, inconvenienced by the debt collectors sending numerous letters through ignorance and without cause for example, could be enough to justify a sum of damages. Or you could perhaps add harassment to the claim instead.

  3. As far as DVLA is concerned, 0 and O are the same character because they are identical in the official font used on number plates. The same is true for 1 and I. I assume that DVLA's systems accept either character and return the correct keeper details. The problem must be in Smart Parking's ticket machines and other systems that treat these characters as different.

    1. My vehicle reg has a '1' in it. I tried entering an 'I' into the dvla vehicle check web site and it is rejected where as entering a '1' was successful.....

    2. I assume that's because 'I' is only allowed in NI registrations.

  4. The KADOE contract also requires Parking Companies to follow the "OFT Debt Collection Guidance". There are all sorts of steps here that the PPCs do not seem to routinely follow. One key point in para 3.7. o) is that they must not ignore/disregard claims that the debt is disputed. Repeated in para 3.9 i) and k). Para 3.23 h) applies to 3rd parties like DRP. Annexe A coveres Disputed Debt explicitly.

  5. Smart were sent a copy of the actual ticket their machine produced which showed the correct vehicle reg and that payment had been made for two hours parking. Their ANPR showed the vehicle leaving in less than 2 hours. With that evidence Smart then passed the personal data to Debt Recovery Plus. breach of DPA. DPA has had the same evidence presented to them and still keep demanding money. Greater Manchester Police have been given the evidence of multiple demands for money not lawfully due and asked to consider a prosecution under the Protection from Harassment Act. They have more serious crimes in Manchester addressing their minds at the moment! The The Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001 indicates that it is unlawful to have a number plate with 01; 02; 03 etd and that they have to be O1; O2; O3 etc. There is no zero merely a capital "O". Throws up an interesting scenario - if you have to input into a ticket machine your correct number plate stick in O1 (or whatever) and the parking company's IT/ANPR will not be able to match photo to inputted data as it can only work (allegedly) if you put 0 in the machine. Leaves the PPC running round in circles and constantly chasing folk who played by the rules/Regulations and motorists claiming £250 for breaches of the DPA. Makes me laugh anyway

  6. This car park is often in the news! It takes 200 cars, and has been owned and operated by Mike Connon for the last 25 years. It is actually two car parks in one, with two different types of of pay and display machines. In September 2015 a Mr Robertson parked on the left-hand side, which was being warden-controlled by Northwest Parking Enforcement Ltd, but unwittingly he paid for a ticket from a machine on the right-hand side, which had been ANPR-controlled by Horizon Parking since about 2014. Four minutes after leaving
    his car a warden slapped a £100 PCN on his windscreen
    - he had bought the wrong ticket!
    Then, in a separate incident in about November 2015
    vandals put all of the P & D machines out of action using superglue, and there was a day's free parking for all! In February 2016 Northwest left and were replaced by Smart Parking.
    In June 2016 andyf117 bought a £1 ticket, issued not by
    Smart but by Horizon, and valid for one hour's parking in the Iceland section of the car park. He was parked for just over half an hour, but instead of a ticket on the windscreen he received a PCN by post.
    Finally last December Mr Brass won a two year battle,
    in Carlisle County Court, against MIL collections who
    had bought an alleged PCN debt from Northwest. Like Mr
    Robertson, he had parked on the left-hand side but bought a ticket from the Iceland P & D machine. On
    returning to his car he had found a PCN on his wind-
    screen. Smart state that since they took over the left-
    hand side in February 2016 they have considerably
    increased the number of signs in an attempt to reduce
    the confusion. Mr Brass, menwhile, states that a
    dozen people have contacted him by social media for
    advice and help with similar problems.
    Talking of signs, I have searched the Carlisle Council
    planning site and have been unable to find evidence
    of any application for parking management / ANPR signs
    or cameras at this site. The last application seems to
    be for illuminated overhead car park signs in 1995. I am taking this up with the Council.

  7. I have just had 2 PCNs for the same carpark in Carlisle, again using the wrong machine. I tried to talk to someone from Smart and Horizon, but both insist you use the appeal process online. I started to use this carpark when I was in the city at my Cancer clinic at the hospital, as big supermarkets tire me out. so on both occasions that I have parked here I have been issued a PCN. If they had talked to me after the first PCN I would have realised my error or their error as its so confusing, and would not have made the mistake twice. I now look at paying £200 even though I put cash in the machine.

    1. It is a valid appeal point that the signage was confusing and you did not realise there were two car parks.