>> 2 February 2015
Westhill & District SNP councillors Amanda Allan and David Aitchison have welcomed the resolution to a thorny parking issue affecting the town.
A car park management company has agreed to refund and cancel more than £10,000 in incorrectly issued parking charge notices following an investigation by Aberdeenshire Council’s Trading Standards Service into notices issued at a private car park in Westhill.
The parking firm issued more than 300 notices to consumers said to have breached terms and conditions in place at the site between September and December 2014. Confusion arose because, although there was an agreement in place between the parking firm and the landowner for the provision of parking management services, a nearby restaurant offered unlimited free parking for customers at the same car park. In a number of cases restaurant customers were incorrectly sent parking charge notices.
The company accepted it had no legal right to issue the notices and immediately agreed to cancel any incorrectly issued. Because of the difficulty in identifying those affected, the parking firm decided to refund all paid, and cancel any outstanding, notices issued between September and December 2014, which had not already been subject to unsuccessful appeals.
This meant around 136 paid parking charge notices worth around £5,500 were refunded and 150 outstanding notices worth £5,940 were cancelled. The parking firm, which co-operated fully with the investigation, agreed to continue to work with Trading Standards and the restaurant to ensure the mistake doesn’t happen again.
Commenting, Cllr Amanda Allan said:
Cllr David Aitchison added:
Aberdeenshire Council’s Trading Standards Manager, Wilma Urquhart, said:
“Full information can be found on our website – it is important to note this advice only applies in the case of private car parks and not to parking tickets issued by local authorities or the police.”
The important points to note are:
- A parking charge notice received after parking at a private car park is not a fine – it is effectively an invoice
- A parking charge notice is civil in nature – it is ultimately for the small claims courts to decide on its enforceability
- The issuing of a parking charge notice is based on contract law – consumers must be made aware of all terms and conditions in place and agree to these before they can be held liable. This includes the display of adequate signage
- The charge being levied must be fair, reasonable and not be excessively high so as to appear to be a penalty. If the charge is for breach of contract it must represent a genuine pre-estimate of loss for the business
- In Scotland, only the driver can be held liable for a parking charge notice. Any attempt to pursue payment from the registered keeper may constitute an offence
"Trading Standards and our Bureau have worked collaboratively over a number of months to encourage resolution of the problem.
"If anyone needs further assistance or wants to raise concerns about other parking locations, they can contact the CAB for advice on 01224 747714.”