Advice for people caught out by new rules at Melton’s Bell Centre car park

A sign informing motorists of the parking tariffs and terms and conditions in the Bell Centre car park EMN-160526-171336001

A sign informing motorists of the parking tariffs and terms and conditions in the Bell Centre car park EMN-160526-171336001

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The Melton Times is still hearing from angry motorists who have been stung with fines since new parking rules came into force in the Bell Centre car park.

It’s been two weeks since we published our front page story warning people about the changes but some drivers have only recently received letters from Smart Parking Ltd - the company which operates and manages the car park - informing them of their fines.

The charges for parking in Bell Centre car park now apply 24-hours-a-day, Monday to Friday.

As previously reported in the newspaper motorists caught out have been slapped with £60 fines, rising to £100 if they don’t pay within 12 days.

Disabled Market Overton woman Nicola Haynes, a blue badge holder, received her letter this week.

She claimed she’d paid for two hours’ parking but left after 40 minutes - yet she’d still been fined despite overpaying. She said Smart Parking Ltd had said she’d underpaid.

Many people who believe they’ve been unfairly fined have already appealed in writing to Smart Parking Ltd. Some have had replies from Smart Parking Ltd saying they have no intention of cancelling the fines but those people who believe they have a strong case have said they would be taking the matter further by lodging an independent appeal with POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals). For details visit www.popla.co.uk

The British Parking Association (BPA) advises motorists to know their rights which they can do by visiting http://www.knowyourparkingrights.org/News/how-to-appeal-a-parking-ticket

The British Motorists’ Protection Association (http://www.bmpa.eu) also gives advice on its website about other options people could take as well as directing them to two online forums where they can get advice (MoneySavingExpert.com and PePiPoo)

For the MSE forum visit http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/reclaim/private-parking-tickets

Previously, a spokesman for Smart Parking Ltd told the Melton Times: “Smart Parking recently installed an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system at the Bell Shopping Centre car park.

“There have been no changes to tariffs. Ahead of doing this we installed nine new signs which clearly state the new terms and conditions of use.

“This new signage was in place for a period of over a week for trialling and testing the equipment to ensure that we are providing a compliant and customer focussed service on-site.

“We would remind any motorist to always check the terms and conditions of use at a private car park.”

A spokeswoman for Central England Co-operative, which owns the land, said it hired Smart Parking Ltd to take over the car park’s management ‘following a number of complaints that customers were unable to use the Bell Centre car park as it was being blocked by people not actually shopping’.

She added: “The Bell Centre car park has always operated as a pay and display site, but unfortunately this has been persistently ignored by a number of car park users who have parked but not paid. As a result we have had to use a professional management company.”