A plucky motorist has won an appeal against a parking charge notice she received from Smart Parking Ltd, giving hope to others fighting notices they’ve been hit with since new parking rules came into force at two car parks in Melton.
Anna Stasinska, who owns the Old Brickyard Tea Garden in Scalford, challenged a notice she received for parking in the old Co-op store car park on Scalford Road. She’d parked there without paying, thinking it was free, not realising the new 24-hours-a-day parking charges were in force.
An assessor from POPLA - the independent appeals service for parking charge notices issued on private land - said that while it was clear she had parked there without paying, they were not satisfied that Smart Parking Ltd, which manages the car parks, ‘had sufficiently proven that they have offered a grace period for regular users of the car park to be made aware of the new terms and conditions of the site.’
It’s been months since the Melton Times first heard from angry motorists who had been slapped with £60 notices - rising to £100 if not paid within 12 days - after not realising charges in the Bell Centre car park and the old Co-op store car park now apply 24-hours-a-day, Monday to Sunday.
Sadly we’re still hearing from drivers who have been penalised, for various reasons, for parking in the car parks without genuinely knowing about the changes. Some have been hit with multiple notices, forking out hundreds of pounds to get things resolved quickly.
Others who believe their notices were unfair have challenged them by initially appealing to Smart Parking Ltd and then, if unsuccessful, taking matters further by lodging an independent appeal with POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals).
Anna received two parking charge notices from Smart Parking Ltd, in March and April, for parking in the old Co-op store car park. She said she paid the first £130 notice after Smart Parking Ltd threatened court action.
The second time she appealed to POPLA, using an article published in the Melton Times as evidence to show that she wasn’t the only local resident who had been caught out by the change in parking fees at both Smart Parking Ltd operated sites.
She said one of her key arguments was that she didn’t see any signs at the Scalford Road site notifying of the changes. She said when POPLA put that to Smart Parking Ltd the company didn’t come back with a response.
Her successful appeal, which she found out about on Monday, means she won’t have to pay her second notice and she now intends to try and get her money back from Smart Parking Ltd for the first notice she paid.
Anna said: “I think people should know that it is worth pursuing unfair parking charges if, like me, they were unaware that a change in terms and conditions had come about at the old Co-op parking site.
“Part of my evidence was an article from the Melton Times which stated a number of people had been caught out by the new parking charges at the two Smart Parking sites. I’d be interested to know just how many people contacted the Melton Times complaining about the parking changes and just how many more people like myself didn’t.
“I think the people of Melton should stand up against Smart Parking and demand their money back.”
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.”