Be careful in search for free parking

Parking signs in Buckingham.'080806M-D067
Parking signs in Buckingham.'080806M-D067

In March 2009 I touched on the subject of parking charges at our general hospitals.

With that in mind I began to investigate the charges and penalties imposed on consumers when making use of national retail sites occupied by some of our “High Street” names.

Imagine that you are visiting a friend in Hounslow and decide to get some retail therapy en route.

Very aware that car parking charges may vary from site to site, you wisely check the internet to see if there might be a free of charge car park in the vicinity.

Result: you find Parkopedia online, with “Helping You Park” as their strap line.

You type in you’re location: Halfords car park, Hospital Road, Hounslow.

Your mood lifts: they list the Curry’s – Halfords car park on Hospital Road as being free of charge, Monday to Sunday 24-hour free parking. Excellent.

Armed with this information you simply drive into the unmanned – unbarriered car park and begin shopping. Said shopping completed, you return to your car and drive off. STOP.

What you missed in your euphoric haze was the parking notice on the left of the entrance to the park. This is a car park monitored by a company in Kettering called Total Parking Solutions who say that the maximum stay on this site is two hours.

Unfortunately, you overstayed by six minutes, triggering a response from TPS in the form of a “Charge Notice” – basically an invoice, devoid of words like parking ticket, fine or penalty.

They want you to pay £90 within 28 days, or £50 if sent within 14 days of date of their “notice” – invoice. However, if no payment is made within 28 days the charge for your over-stay of six minutes will rise to a staggering £110.

One of these two set-ups is wrong. To date I have yet to receive any response, comment or statement from either organisation.

Take nothing for granted.