Drivers hope to use legal loophole to write-off Corby Co-op parking tickets

The car park at the former Co-op in Alexandra Road, Corby.

The car park at the former Co-op in Alexandra Road, Corby.

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Hundreds of motorists given tickets at a Corby car park are hoping a legal loophole could mean their tickets are written-off.

Motorists using the former Co-op car park in Alexandra Road, Corby, were shocked to start receiving tickets at the end of March as they had been using the car park for free for two months since the supermarket closed.

Parking charges have been introduced at the former co-op car park in Alexandra Road, Corby. NNL-160804-165942001

Parking charges have been introduced at the former co-op car park in Alexandra Road, Corby. NNL-160804-165942001

Many have now successfully appealed using a template letter printed by the Northants Telegraph, which is reproduced at the end of this page.

One of those was Leanne Hunter from Corby who said: “I got two tickets and used the appeal that was in the NT and both of mine got cancelled.”

And Janis Phillips said: “I’m pleased to report we got a letter in today’s post (cancelling the ticket). We used the template letter in the NT.”

But now others who have appealed unsuccessfully are hoping they can use a legal loophole to persuade the firm to cancel their tickets.

Smart Parking, which runs the car park on behalf of owners Co-op, did not get planning permission to put up their ANPR cameras. The cameras take photos to be used as evidence to prove what time cars entered and exited the car park. There is also no permission in place for new signs.

Corby Council has now begun an investigation into the situation. It is also thought that the authority has asked the firm to apply for retrospective permission for the cameras.

A Corby Council spokesman said: “The borough council is aware of the concerns raised and has concluded the CCTV cameras as installed are likely to require planning permission along with advertisement consent for the signs. No approvals have been given, therefore the matter is currently subject to ongoing investigation.”

Similar recent cases in the north of England have led to people successfully challenging their tickets.

In Cleveleys, Lancashire, MP Paul Maynard has become involved after it was revealed that an Aldi car park had been operating for five years without permission for its cameras. But Aldi claimed that the lack of permission ‘in no way’ affected the enforceability of the tickets.

David Kenna from Corby appealed against his ticket but was unsuccesful. He is now hoping to get it overturned on appeal to POPLA, the independent appeals service for Parking Charge Notices. He said: “I was sent a PCN and I appealed on the grounds that it was a change from previous rules, and signage was inadequate.

“I had also paid £1 retrospectively to cover the period I was there, as soon as I realised the car park was subject to new charges. The appeal was rejected by Smart Parking. I am referring up to POPLA, an independent adjudication service, on the grounds that they do not own the land, the charges are punitive - over the top - and they had no planning permission at the time of the alleged contravention, and still don’t.”

A Smart Parking spokesman said: “Smart Parking commenced planning applications for this site in-line with the council’s requests and requirements.”

The template letter that has been successful for many of our readers is reproduced below, courtesy of the British Motorists’ Protection Association. Do let us know how you get on with any appeal by emailing nt.newsdesk@northantsnews.co.uk

Dear Sirs

Re: PCN No...

I challenge this ‘PCN’ as keeper of the car and I will complain to the landowner about the matter if it is not cancelled.

I believe that the signs were not seen/are ambiguous and the terms unclear to drivers before they park. Further, I understand you do not own the car park and you have given me no information about your policy with the landowner or on site businesses, to cancel such a charge. So please supply that policy as I believe the driver may well be eligible for cancellation.

There will be no admissions as to who was driving and no assumptions can be drawn. You must either rely on the POFA 2012 and offer me a POPLA code, or cancel the charge.

I have also attached copies of photos from an article from the Northamptonshire Telegraph showing the signs are not “materially different” as you claim. Other photos also show missing signs in the car park. Finally I wish to point out your breach of the BPA Code of practice 18.1

18.1 Where there is any change in the terms and conditions that materially affects the motorist then you should make these clear on your signage. Where such changes impose liability where none previously existed then you should consider a grace period to allow regular visitors to the site to adjust and familiarise themselves with the changes.

Clearly you have failed significantly with regards to the code.

I have kept proof of submission of this appeal and look forward to your reply.

Yours faithfully,