Monthly Archives: August 2017

Parking Pains

I took what was supposed to be a nice walk today, to think about my next novel.

 

I got plenty of thinking done – but not the sort I’d planned. And it wasn’t the pleasant, relaxing invigorating joy that a walk should be.

 

Because every few steps I saw another of those bloody signs.

 

The private car park ones, from people such as Parking Eye and National Parking Enforcement and similar names, all with something aggressive in their title.

 

So why have these notices popped up so much in the last 10 or even 5 years?

 

Companies who employ these firms claim that their parking is being abused; that people are overstaying or that non customers (or residents or workers) are using their facilities. So they contract private parking enforcement firms to ‘manage’ the parking spaces, sometimes on wasteland, to threaten motorists into not using their space, or staying too long, or parking outside of the sometimes too small and vague markings.

 

Even if there are issues with visitors being unable to park, this is not the right way to deal with them. By all means, get in touch and ask people to move on, but I cannot see how these henchman are needed.

 

Having the intrusion of being photographed each time you come in and leave which is then used to harass you for a disproportionate charge for going 1 mintue over an arbitary limit is a far truer example of abuse.

 

The truth is that these firms hope of course that drivers will commit what they consider a misdemeanour and garner them some revenue, to top up the fees from the landowner.

 

I don’t see that these companies run a legitimate business, for they exist from someone’s else’s faults. There is often no real harm done by the drivers and the companies create some with threats of bullying.

 

Much of the time they are guarding free parking where other custom is being given.

 

I think there needs to be a debate about paid parking and how motorists are over charged on many matters. Many of us can’t park even at our homes, even when we’ve paid permits, and parking charges are high. Many parking rules, private or otherwise, are more arbitrary than for safety – which is the only fair reason to penalise on parking.

 

We want to cut down on cars, but we also want drivers so we can make money from them. I especially note this contradictory call from councils.

 

These parking firms don’t give us much choice – for as we hove into the only parking place available for us to visit our friend, pop to the shop, have a drink, attend a business meeting, collect someone off the train, even go to church, we are greeted by a notice. Yes, usually not at the car park entrance – where the salient point will be that it’s free, or otherwise – but at the place we park. And we’ve already gone through a barrier, and can’t easily get out.

Perhaps we don’t see those horrid signs. Now I’ve noticed them I see the signs everywhere, but I didn’t for a long time. If it’s a free carpark and one that is for visitors, why would I imagine that I can be charged?

 

Their notices are ugly. ‘Private property’ is one of the first and most common things they say – so this is definitely capitalist. Not – ‘visitors only please’, or even, ruder, ‘private carpark’. I disdain anyone who puts up private property signs, it doesn’t speak well of them.

 

Then the signs say – if you don’t do this arbitrary thing, you ‘agree’ to being clamped – but clamping in Wales and England has been illegal on private ground for 5 years – and charged £60 to £250. But for what? And that removing these signs is a criminal offence.

 

I see a criminal offence here. I certainly see a moral one.

 

The removal of the signs being illegal is questionable; it would mean that the fees – note, it’s not a real fine – can’t be pursued. Those signs are vital to their having any credibility and success. They masquerade as real fines, which can only come from councils and the police. They use county courts to enforce these, but that is an abuse too. Parking Eye – Britain’s worst and most aggressive – is making a loss in legal fees to recover their invoices. That says a lot about them, and also the legal system.

 

They pay solicitors to send out letters which threaten credit rating harm – which is only possible, and much further down the line. (The credit system is something I want to question too.) This practice speaks ill of the solicitors.

 

There is, I understand, no legal basis for these fees. (It’s supposed to be under contract law but this is contentious).

 

I also challenge the legality of de facto one sided contracts.

 

These companies are buying driver’s data from the DVLA (Britain’s vehicle licensing authority), but this is effectively bribery and abuse of government information.

 

I query the underlying basis of the companies, rather than whether you were unaware or unfairly caught out.

 

I encourage businesses and land owners not to use them and for anyone who receives a notice from them to fight it. Let your favourite cafe and shop know how you feel about their use of these companies. Avoid custom.

 

Find another way to manage your parking – differently worded signs and without threats and privacy invasion.

 

There are many sites about how to fight these parking people and also petitions for greater regulation, and for the banning of these companies.

https://www.change.org/p/campaign-against-illegal-practices-by-private-car-park-companies-and-debt-collectors This site has many good points and a sound legal basis.

I’ll encourage others to do their own research. These firms are often acting unlawfully, and are living from harassment dressed as a service to landowners.

Instead, I refer you to a Suffolk village who says “no claims, no fines” and asks us to donate when we park towards the village upkeep. It works, and we lingered rather than moved on without spending like we did the Parking Eye run retail park.

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