Parking firm defends policy after holidaymaker loses fine appeal

Western Car Park, Camber. Picture: Googe Street View
Western Car Park, Camber. Picture: Googe Street View

The company in charge of Camber’s Western Car Park has defended its policy after a holidaymaker received a £60 fine he called ‘unethical’.

Mike Walker, 74, from Dorchester, was visiting Camber Sands with family in early April when he parked in the car park, in New Lydd Road

Mike Walker

Mike Walker

He said he paid for three hours by using one of the machines in the car park and returned to his vehicle 17 minutes before the three hours were up.

However, within weeks of returning from his holiday, Mr Walker received a letter from Smart Parking – the company which runs the car park on behalf of Rother District Council – saying he had not paid and had been issued with a penalty charge notice of £60 which would increase to £100 if nothing was paid after three weeks.

Responding to Mr Walker’s concerns, a spokesman for Smart Parking said: “Smart Parking was brought in to manage the Western Car Park at Camber Sands so that visitors always have a place to park.

“Whilst we understand that parking enforcement can be contentious in this case Mr Walker says he paid for parking but we have no record of him making any payment and so he was issued a Parking Charge Notice. On the day in question both of our payment machines were working normally and many hundreds of people parked without any issues.

“Mr Walker made use of our British Parking Association-accredited appeal system and our decision was upheld. Mr Walker had the option of appealing to the industry ombudsman POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeal) but instead chose to pay the fine.

“We are members of the British Parking Association (BPA) and strictly follow its guidelines.”

Mr Walker said he paid the £60 fine after consulting with friends but said he also decided to take up an appeal after hearing from seven other drivers who received ‘unjustified’ fines.

He said: “Once I received the charge, I wrote to SmartParking and told them I could produce six witnesses who would attest that the appropriate fee was put into the machine.

“I have received two further letters from SmartParking rejecting my appeal in which they do not address my statement that I could produce six witness statements. What they are doing is unethical.”

Rother District Council – who brought in Smart Parking to run the car park on its behalf – said it has worked ‘quickly and closely’ with the parking company to resolve issues when they have arisen.

A spokesman added: “With regards to raising and progressing an appeal, should a customer not be satisfied with the appeals process provided by SmartParking, the case can be referred to the independent adjudicator POPLA.

“We are advised that appeals made direct with SmartParking and with the adjudicator may be successful when the evidence provided by both parties demonstrates that the enforcement should not have occurred.”

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