When you've parked your car in an almost-empty car park do you expect to be fined £100 for parking a few inches out?
Sixty-one-year old Peter Barr parked his silver Mercedes for £3 near the set of TV show, Doc Martin in pretty Port Isaac, Cornwall. But an over-zealous parking inspector promptly ticketed the car, with a fine of £100. Frustrating for the motorist - but legal.
Double parked?Car park operator AS Parking is currently refusing to back down on the £100 charge. "When I returned to the car park," Barr is quoted in the Mail, "I found a Parking Notice Charge which said I was not wholly within the parking bay. I agree I was about eight inches outside the bay on the passenger side - I hadn't noticed."
Retired bank worker Barr says he's prepared to pay double the original £3 charge, if AS Parking feels his large 4x4 should stump up for an extra bay.
T&C small printPrivate companies like AS Parking can issue parking tickets but they are not the same as Parking Control Charges from a council. Technically, a parking bay has to be at least 1.62m wide though as cars have got larger and wider over the years, this measurement increasingly is tight.
"We have to issue notices for all contraventions, however minor they may appear to onlookers," company manager Kevin McManus told the Cornish Guardian, "in order to remain fair and consistent.
Don't hit the brakes"Had we not issued," he went on, "a ticket in this instance and issued a ticket to a neighbouring vehicle for having no ticket (for example), the motorist could rightly complain that they were alienated as the neighbouring vehicle also failed to adhere to the T&C's [terms and conditions]."
Recently motorist David Hotchin won his battle to have a £100 parking fine rescinded - for circling Fistral Beach car park in Newquay for half an hour without stopping. Car park operator Parking Eye send him four warning letters - but Hotchin stuck to his guns.
"The most vulnerable people in society just pay up," he said, "but we decided to stick it out because we felt we had a good case."
The Department for Transport is still looking at legal options to abolish minimum rates for parking penalty charges to allow local authorities to cut fines for minor parking violations, though how many will remains to be seen.
£350,000 to be paid backMeanwhile it's emerged that Newham Council in East London will have to repay £350,000 in illegally issued parking fines.
The National Motoring Action Group told the Telegraph, the move "should make councils more cautious in attempting to retain unlawfully-acquired penalty charges when they have had to cease enforcement".