Rip Off Britain: Lawyer Gary Rycroft gives tips on parking tickets
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Nicholas Danton, 42, received a £60 penalty charge notice after visiting the seaside town of Margate in August. He was on a family day out with his wife and daughters and decided to leave his car in a private car park.
After initially paying for four hours of parking, the family decided to extend their stay to watch the carnival that was happening on the day.
Mr Danton made sure he bought another hour of parking at the facility.
However, he was shocked to receive a £60 penalty charge notice in the post a few weeks later, KentLive reported.
Drivers were previously afforded a ten-minute ‘grace period’ to leave a car park after their ticket had ran out under the Private Parking Code of Practice.
However, unbeknownst to drivers, the rule was withdrawn in June and is pending review.
Mr Danton has now urged authorities to make sure that motorists are aware of the change and to add additional signage in car parks.
He still considers his fine to be unfair as Smart Parking has started the clock from the moment he entered the car park and not when he bought his ticket.
Mr Danton’s PCN notice letter shows he left the car park four minutes after his parking ticket had expired.
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Smart Parking states that he spent 310 minutes on the site having only paid for 300.
Mr Danton said: “I think the general public doesn’t know about this. I didn’t even know about the ten-minute grace period until I appealed and I wanted knowledge to back me up.
“I had no idea it had been withdrawn, and people need to be aware of that.
“The ten-minute grace period should return as it was. If we have to live without it, make people aware that this is the case.
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“It’s like people are being tricked – you should know before a fine comes through your letterbox.”
Mr Danton continued: “Car parks should be providing signage to this effect. It needs to be visible.
“People will abide by the rules if they know about them. If I hadn’t paid anything all day then I would expect this.
“I appealed against that because it was unfair. They decided to uphold it because I was in the site for 10 minutes longer than I paid for.
“This means they’re counting the time that you enter the car park before you’ve paid – people going there for the day probably don’t realise they’re being charged as soon as they go into the park.
“It was the middle of the summer, so you can’t find a parking space straight away. I used the RingGo app to pay, which takes time to set up your bank details and so on.”
Mr Danton added the charge had spoiled what was a pleasant day out for his family.
After his appeal was rejected by Smart Parking, he has now progressed to the independent appeals body POPLA but runs the risk of his fine increasing from £60 to £100.
POPLA have extended the 14-day deadline for the fine escalation while they look into his case.
He says his experience has put him off visiting Margate again. At a time when the cost of living is on the rise, having to pay the PCN is a concern to him and his family.
Mr Danton said: “I only earn just above the minimum wage so it will be a big cost if I have to pay it. I’ll have to cut down on something to afford it.
“The main cost for us is food, so we’d have to cut out luxuries there. The bills are enough as they are because everything’s going up.”
Nicholas has also contacted Dreamland and Thanet Council without response.
Express.co.uk has contacted Smart Parking for comment.
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