http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04nwhsy - time 01:36
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08bbyl9/spotlight-evening-news-23012017 - 2 minutes in
Car parking operator Premier Parking Solutions have hit on a new wheeze to make money from car parking; install a system which is not fit for purpose.
The system requires you to enter your registration number, but crucially is using outmoded technology which accepts non-valid registrations and registration numbers of vehicles which are not in the car park.
This has caught out huge numbers of motorists who made innocent mistakes.
Pensioners Cherry and Donald Smith were caught out when Cherry accidentally typed YB309 instead of Y309 for the last few digits of the registration. Some days later they received a parking charge of £100. As this is a huge proportion of their weekly pension, Cherry was naturally worried. The charge also ruined what was previously a very pleasant weekend.
They appeal to an appeals service run by Will Hurley and John Davies, but the appeal was dismissed as the adjudicator ruled no payment had been made for a vehicle with their registration
Premier Parking Solutions started court action and only stopped when the media became involved. However, they have plenty of other court cases in the pipeline which the media do not know about and are therefore still ongoing.
Local MP Kevin Foster has been inundated with complaints regarding this car park and considers it skirts the edge of morality to issue charges in such circumstances.
Will Hurley, a solicitor who specialises in taking motorists to court for inflated amounts, appeared on television to defend the charges. His firm, Gladstones Solicitors, loses large number of cases through procedural errors, poor legal knowledge and general incompetence. The twitter hashtag, "You've been #gladstoned", is used to refer to claimants persuaded to take out a no-hope case by greedy solicitors.
Will stated that new schemes are in place to incentivise operators to cancel charges when a genuine error has been made. However, he did not offer any details and therefore this must be viewed as puff and flim flam until real details emerge.
He promised future charges will be dealt with much more leniently, or, as the TV subtitles put it, with a much more lenient knee.
Will blamed the sudden rash of charges being issued on the poor technology which had been installed to save money.
Of course, Will is fully aware that the technology has really been installed to make money, not save money. In the Prankster's opinion the technology used is outdated and not fit for purpose. Proper car park managers would install machines which only accept valid registration plates, and also which only allow a plate to be entered if the ANPR cameras have detected that the vehicle is currently present in the car park.
Such systems have existed for a very long time. The Prankster blogged about such a system back in 2014 and followed up in 2015. Freedom of information requests show that with such a system in place very few parking charges are issued - if it is made easy for motorists to comply with the rules, then they will.
Of course, the problem is that this does not help greedy parking companies who want to issue as many charges as possible.
One big problem with systems which require a registration to be entered is that they make no allowance for people with Dyslexia. Dyslexia is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, and the NHS estimate that 5-10% of the population suffer from some form of this. One common issue dyslexic people have is the transposition of letters and digits, and the inability to recognise this has happened. Thus they may enter AB10 YOG instead of AB10 OYG.
The Prankster is fully aware that Premier Park takes dyslexic people to court for getting their registration mixed in this way, that they refuse to cancel charges even when they are aware of the dyslexia and that they have no process in place for a reasonable adjustment.
The Prankster strongly believes that dyslexic people should not be viewed as a cash cow by the parking industry, and that they are in breach of the Equality Act 2010 for behaving in this way.
The very system itself is not fit for purpose and should be updated to use modern processes which only allow registrations of cars present in the car park. The charge issuing process should also be updated to search for close-match registrations and abort the charge if one is found. The appeals process should be updated to carry our further searches if the motorist has stated a ticket was purchased. All these are reasonable adjustments which result in no loss to the parking company because a ticket for parking has been purchased.
So, what should the future of parking be? Should we strive for systems which create a fair parking regime and use technology to minimise errors?
Or should we follow the example of the worst of the parking companies, helped by Will Hurley, and create complicated parking systems where the rules are hard to keep to and the chances of issuing a charge maximised. One typical example is a car park disguised as a layby in Heath Parade. Will Hurley's firm have filed claims against large numbers of motorists tricked into stopping at this 'lay-by'. Is this really the future of parking? Designing sites to scam as many motorists as possible?
Parking Management is a privilege and not a right. Parking companies and trade associations who are not committed to a fair parking regime have no place in this industry.
The Parking Prankster