Dozens – if not hundreds – of drivers have wrongly been issued fines after a ‘glitch’ in a car park ticketing system.
Most motorists parking at Edward Street and Templar Street car parks in Leeds city centre during November were affected by the system malfunction.
Despite correctly paying and displaying up to £6.50 each, they received a £95 charge notice at home up to six weeks later.
Now Consumerwatch has spoken to Highview Parking Ltd that is responsible for the ticketing technology.
And they have assured the column that champions your rights that all drivers who parked correctly at the two sites and were wrongly issued with a ticket will have their notice cancelled.
Anyone who gets in touch by email or post to raise the issue will have this confirmed in writing, said Adam Harris.
He told Consumerwatch that the issue only affected those paying by card, and these people will have proof of payment on their bank statement if they no longer have their payment ticket.
But Joan McCutcheon, 56, from Horsforth, paid £6.50 in cash for a full day’s parking at Edward Street car park on November 8.
And on December 22 she received a notice demanding payment for £95 from Highview Parking as she had paid ‘insufficient funds’ for her stay.
Mr Harris stressed that all cases - even where people paid cash and had not kept their pay& display ticket - would be cancelled.
He said: “Anyone who paid, I am 100 per cent they will have already been cancelled, and we have apologised sincerely for any stress caused.
“Now it’s about getting people’s confidence back and making people see that it’s a good system that’s there to increase traffic flow for both customers and our client and hopefully in a short period of time you will see that.”
As previously reported in Consumerwatch, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology is used at the two city centre car parks to record the date and time the various cars enter and leave the sites.
Customers who then choose to park must enter their car’s registration plate number into the ticket machine when buying a pay and display ticket .
The ANPR camera and ticket machine then share information and notices for £95 are automatically sent to drivers who have not paid enough.
Edward Street and Templar Street car parks are managed by Leeds-based Town Centre Car Parks, who employed Highviews to provide the ANPR ticketing technology.
Andy White, operations manager at Town Centre Car Parks, said: “We operate more than 4,500 car park spaces in Leeds and use ANPR on some of these and there have been no issues.
“We are not happy [with what has happened] and we have told [Highview] this.”
He added: “We are assured that any customers incorrectly ticketed, those charge notices are cancelled.”
Motorists who got in touch with Consumerwatch all said the system was weighted on the side of Highviews and not the customer who is left to prove they paid.
You told us:
* Tickets are issued up to six weeks after the alleged parking offence making it difficult to appeal for those who paid by cash;
* Motorists have just two weeks to pay if they want to qualify for a reduced fine rate of £75;
* After 28 days drivers are chased for a further £40;
* The telephone number provided is an unmanned automated service with no-one to speak to;
* Highviews is slow to confirm if an appeal has succeeded or failed.
Mr Harris said: “I completely understand that people feel aggrieved. Anyone who has been issued a notice when they bought a ticket will have them cancelled.
“There was a technical issue that resulted in these errors but the data we have received says this has now been resolved.
“It’s nothing more sinister than a glitch in a new system that’s been running for a few months. The people who paid by cash, we have received all their details.”
Mr Harris said occasionally drivers enter the wrong registration numbers, but the system is programmed to allow for one wrong digit.
Mrs McCutcheon, who was ticketed, said: “There’s a very blase approach to all of this.
“We shouldn’t have to keep a ticket for weeks to prove anything. You should be able to pay your money and that’s that.”
Amanda Barnes, 46, of Wakefield, was billed £95 five weeks after parking at Templar Street.
She said: “What’s so annoying about this is I stood and queued at that machine for ages because if you are new to the car park the ticket machine is fairly complicated.
“I couldn’t believe it [when I got a charge notice]. Then I started panicking I haven’t got the ticket because you don’t keep it for a month.”
Alyson Squire, 49, from Bardsey, got a ticket 30 days after parking in Templar Street.
She said: “What makes it even more difficult is the debit shows on your bank statement as UPT Town Centre, not Highviews.
I also don’t like the idea of paying a fine over the phone using an automated system as clearly things can go wrong.”
Thomas Charlesworth, 23, from Sheffield, who parked in Edward Street car park, was lucky that his pay&display ticket was still in his car so he was able to appeal.
Jason Backhouse was waiting on a reply to his appeal against his charge notice at the time we went to print.
Huma Akhtar said: “I received a letter [from Highview] stating they have cancelled the fine but no apology or explanation was given.”