Due the the size of the car park the landowners (Coxeters Ltd) desired that it only be used by genuine customers of the shops, and not by motorists who wished to park and go elsewhere. This is of course a perfectly reasonable desire on the part of Coxeters. There were historical problems with people parking and then leaving the site and customers not then being able to find a parking space.
They therefore contacted UK Car Parking Management who suggested they put in an unmanned solution where ANPR records vehicles entering and leaving, and customers record their genuineness by entering their registration on tablet computers held within the shops. In theory this all sounded fine, but in practice the system proved unworkable.
UKCPM had limited previous experience with systems of this type. The tablets were cheap and cheerful no-brand models and would continually break down. Large numbers of charges were incorrectly issued to genuine customers. The management team contacted the parking company who wrote back agreeing to cancel all incorrectly issued charges if Coxeters asked them to cancel.
During the short period of 7 months the system was in operation, over 1,500 incorrect charges were issued, including to the directors of Coxeters, their tenants and their customers. This had the potential to harm their business and Coxeters therefore decided that UKCPM could no longer manage the car park. They tried to enter into dialogue, but UKCPM then became unresponsive.
In order to protect their customers, Coxeters turned off the power supply to the ANPR cameras. UKCPM then removed the cameras. After a number of letters threatening to sue, UKCPM backed down - but only for a little while.
There were still a large number of outstanding charges, and it appears the parking company then began to commence court proceedings only against motorists identified as genuine customers, and not those issued to people who should not have parked. To date UKCPM have not provided any evidence that this is not the case.
Aided and abetted by Gladstones solicitors, they are now in the process of taking these customers to court.
This is of course totally against the wishes of the landowners, totally against the brief given to the parking company, and totally against the contents of the communications promising to cancel charges when instructed.
Coxeters wish to assist any genuine customers who have been caught up in this debacle. If you are a customer threatened with legal action, or who has a court claim, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Although there are about 200 parking companies registered with the trade associations, The Prankster only gets complaints about a very few. Sadly UKCPM are one of these, and it looks as if Coxeters picked a dud. Had they picked a different company, things could have turned out better. Meanwhile Coxters have turned to a manual patrol system operated by rhemselves and this seems to be working well.
The Parking Prankster