Lawrence Carney, 58, has been on a nine-month crusade after being handed a 22-hour parking fine in June last year in a car park in Dartford, Kent.
An angry driver says he is willing to pay thousands to face the £100 parking fee he was slapped with after staying in a retail park “just half an hour”.
Lawrence Carney, 58, has been on a nine-month crusade after being fined 22 hours in a car park in Dartford, Kent in June last year.
Carney said he visited the retail park for half an hour over two consecutive days, but was penalized for a faulty CCTV number plate recognition.
Car parking is free for three hours but he claims he was never recorded leaving the first time so he was hit with an overstay charge the system looks like he arrived at 3.20pm on 10th June and left at 1.30pm. The next day.
He appealed to the parking enforcers, Group Nexus, and the independent arbitrator, Parking On Private Land Appeals (POPLA), but was denied both times.
Parking at The Tower Retail Park (pictured) is free for three hours, but Mr Carney claims he never checked in leaving the first time so he was fined for overstaying.
Carney, from Dartford, contacted the British Parking Association, which represents the Nexus, about the alleged problems, but they denied any problems with the system.
Undeterred, he continues his fight and seeks legal help to fight the fine for his stay in the Tower Retail Park car park.
He said if I bumped into you in the street and said ‘give me £100’ you wouldn’t do it.
That’s what happened here, they’re asking for £100 for not being there. It’s just wrong what this company is doing.
Motorist is notified by CCJ Removals Services, which helps people remove court judgments from their credit reports.
Paralegal Luke Memory specializes in challenging parking fines and oversees the case.
He said: “Such cases do not usually reach court because the legal costs are much higher than a fine but Mr. Carney is the exception to the rule.”
Does it pay to fight unfair parking tickets straight to the top?
About 35,000 disputes are registered with the Traffic Sanctions Tribunal each year – and most importantly, two-thirds of those who challenge parking fines win their case.
We spent a day watching virtual hearings take place via video call – allowing motorists to get through their day in court from the comfort of their living rooms.
Read more: Inside the traffic courts where two out of three drivers win their appeals
Once Mr Carney has been sued we will have the solicitor draft a statement of defence, at a cost of £500, this will result in a court hearing at which Mr Carney will instruct the solicitor and this will cost about £1000.
“It is unacceptable to the common man but Mr. Carney is happy to fight it in court.”
He added: “These companies are very smart because the costs of defending a case are much higher than a fine, so people usually just pay up.
My thoughts are that he has a good condition. What they claim is that he stayed in the car park for too long but their own evidence does not substantiate this and is riddled with omissions and errors and makes it clear that their records are inaccurate and unreliable.
Carney added: “I’m only doing this because the data they provided was so bad.
“They would have to show that it is flawless but as I found it does not.”
Mr. Carney plans to have all of his costs paid by Group Nexus if he wins his case.
After appealing the sentence through independent arbitrators, POPLA, Group Nexus released a 356-page document showing all activities during the 24-hour period in the car park.
Mr. Carney used his knowledge of analytics and put all the records into a spreadsheet.
From there I conclude that Group Nexus data appears to be missing a number of entries.
According to the document, Mr Carney was seen entering the shopping precinct car park at 3.20pm on 10 June.
He was then seen leaving at 1.30pm the next day without any further data entries for his car.
After looking through all 9,920 entries, he claimed that there were more anomalies.
According to Mr. Carney, 135 cars arrived or left the parking lot twice, while 67 cars entered twice, and 68 cars left twice.
There was also one entrance where one car drove out of the parking lot three times without even getting in.
Besides, Carney says 96 cars were checked in on June 10, but were not spotted leaving that day.
On June 11, 100 different cars, which had not arrived that day, were seen leaving, according to Carney. This means that a maximum of 196 people can also be fined that day alone.
Ticket Types: Find out your parking fees from PCN
Determining how to handle unfair parking fees depends on the type of ticket.
Expert Barry Segal runs the Consumer Champion Web site Call Now.
He says: There is a huge difference in the law between council parking tickets and private parking tickets.
Many local authorities in their pursuit of parking ticket income act unfairly in dealing with motorists. The behavior of many private parking companies is even worse.
Disputed: The council’s official PCN differs from the private parking fee, but the latter appears to mimic the former
Check what is written on the ticket itself. It is only formal if it contains the word “penalty”.
This means that it was issued by a local authority and is a formal penalty notice, or PCN for short. If you think your PIN is wrong, first appeal to the local authority that issued it.
You have 14 days to do so, or 21 days if it was mailed.
Include any evidence – such as photos and witness statements, as well as details including your vehicle registration number, PCN number and contact information.
If you are not successful at the end of the first stage, there is still the option to pay a penalty at a 50 percent reduced rate.
But if you are adamant about moving forward, you have another 28 days to file a free formal appeal. If this is also rejected, then there is another step.
You can refer to an independent court. This is the London Courts Service in London, and in England and Wales it is the Traffic Penalty Court. In Scotland, motorists have 28 days to lodge an appeal with the Public Regulatory Chamber.
Read more: How to challenge parking fines and win
‘That night, they had 196 cars left unchecked at 3 a.m., the parking lot was supposed to be half full,’ Carney said.
‘How can they issue fines for this?’ Their data is very poor. What I really want is for Group Nexus to cancel all parking fines from this parking lot.
Mr Carney added: ‘I know they’ve lost two of my photos and I know I can’t prove it in isolation but there are many entries that can’t be explained or haven’t been explained.
They use this bad data to pay the fines. There are people who cannot afford the fine, not to mention the legal procedures for that, and therefore giving fines for this data is wrong.
There are some entries starting with 1322 which is basically the area code for Dartford.
I think the ANPR system could pick up phone numbers from the back of trucks.
Data provided by Group Nexus shows that cars arrive and leave unnoticed by their ANPR cameras, and this can indeed lead to tickets being issued in error.
Despite this, their website does acknowledge this problem.
The site states: “Repeated users of a car park during a 24-hour period sometimes find that their first entry is combined with their last exit, resulting in an ‘overstay’.”
Carney urged all those contesting the fine to properly analyze the evidence presented.
He said, ‘When a person appeals their parking fee to POPLA Nexus, they may provide evidence in the form of a PDF document showing all arrivals and departures. This is especially true for these “long runs”.
“People should get the data properly parsed because they are likely to be very poor.”
Group Nexus previously said of the case: ‘The PCN was upheld on the grounds that the motorist exceeded the free time allotment.
Camera problems are extremely rare. When there is one, we always find evidence of it in the system.
“In this case we investigated the allegation and found no evidence that this vehicle had visited the site twice.”
The British Parking Association said an investigation had been carried out but the ticket had been issued correctly.
A spokesperson said: ‘The driver appealed the charge against their car to POPLA which was dismissed as they considered the charge was properly made.
“The BPA has thoroughly investigated a motorist’s complaint about one of its members managing the car park and found there was no breach of its code of practice.”
Group Nexus also reiterated their claim that there is nothing wrong with their cameras.
A spokesperson said: ‘The original appeal was dismissed and PCN upheld on the grounds that the motorist overstayed the free time allotment.
Camera problems are extremely rare. In this case, we investigated the claim and found no evidence that this vehicle had visited the site twice.
The driver then referred his appeal to POPLA, an independent arbitrator run by Ombudsman Services who also dismissed the appeal.
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