Planning to park at Waitrose car park on a busy Saturday?
Beware: you will now get stung with a parking notice if you outstay your welcome – even if it’s because you got stuck in a traffic jam trying to leave!
Motorists have contacted Spotted in Ely after receiving parking charge notices – despite getting to their vehicles within the two hour time slot.
The recently installed, CCTV style automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras, installed at the entrance and exit to Waitrose car park, record the exact moment a car enters and leaves the Britannia Parking controlled park.
Resident Malcolm Howard was one of a number of shoppers who got caught out on Saturday, January 27, when he said it took him over an hour to vacate the car park, after returning to his car.
Other people have also received parking notices, which start at £40 and rise if unpaid.
The cameras operate 24/7, which means you will also get a ticket if you park for over two hours in the evening, which was previously exempt from the two hour limit.
Timed photographs are taken of each vehicle entering and leaving the car park, as well as close ups of its number plate.
The duration of the stay is calculated from the times registered on the two sets of photographs.
If a driver exceeds the two hour limit, they’ll receive a charge certificate in the post from Britannia, which accesses their details from the DVLA’s Vehicle Keepers database.
Issues with ANPR
As well as the fact that ANPR cameras don’t take traffic jams leaving a car park into account, there are other issues with this automated system.
According to the British Parking Association, repeat users of a car park inside a 24 hour period sometimes find that their first entry is paired with their last exit, resulting in an “overstay”.
And some “drive in/drive out” motorists that have activated the system have received charge certificates even though they haven’t actually parked.
The BPA says that operators should “be factoring in a small ‘grace period’ to allow a driver time either to find a parking space (and to leave if there is not one) or make a decision whether the tariff is appropriate for their use or not”.
The grace period, however, is at the discretion of the landowner.
Know your rights
According to the BBC’s Your Money Their Tricks, private companies have no legal power to fine you – only the police or councils can do that.
“In fact, they are not even allowed to use the word penalty. But some private parking companies can make their parking charges look very similar to official penalty charge notices.”
If police or a local authority issue a fine, it will usually be labelled as a PCN (Penalty Charge Notice) and may come in an official yellow cellophane wrapper.
“Some private companies now use similar packaging and even label their notices with PCN, but this time it stands for Parking Charge Notice. Others may even use the term ‘enforcement’ but they don’t have any enforcement powers.”
What should you do if you get a parking notice?
The British Parking Association says motorists issued with tickets must first decide if they are “in the right or wrong” and decide whether to pay or appeal.
They advise those who agree they have overstayed their limit to pay the charge immediately, as the cost will rise if they wait.
However, if they believe the ticket shouldn’t have been issued, they should appeal to the operator (in this case Britannia), stating their case.
If the operator agrees, the ticket will be cancelled.
What if your case is rejected?
If your case has been declined by Britannia and you feel you’ve been unfairly ticketed, you can make an appeal online to Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA), which is administered by The Ombudsman Service.
You should include any evidence supporting your case, including photographs (for example, if you think the signage was inadequate), witness statements and other information.
POPLA must receive your appeal within 28 days from the date of the operator’s notice of rejection.