A woman collecting her 94-year-old mum from hospital was slapped with a £100 parking charge even though her car was in a disabled bay and displaying a valid permit.
Jeanette and John Creasey parked in a Blue Badge bay in November 2014 when they collected her mum, Patricia Tanner, from Kingston Hospital, where she’d been treated.
They didn’t know that the hospital had just changed the car park from pay and display to a CCTV number plate recognition system.
The couple had left their permit on display, not knowing that Blue Badge holders were now supposed to take their badges to the hospital’s main entrance to have their details logged.
How were we supposed to know?
John said there were no signs in the bay where they parked warning of the change, or explaining how disabled drivers would now get free parking.
In fact, there were still some pay-and-display signs up. The couple were sent a notice demanding £100 payment within 14 days, reduced to £50 for early payment. John was unwilling to pay and contacted Which? Legal for advice.
After getting the notice, they went back to the car park and saw a few signs stating ‘Blue Badge holders – please see signage within bays for information on how to obtain free parking’.
Some signs were at payment machines, which Blue Badge holders wouldn’t need to go to and so wouldn’t see. Security asked the couple to leave when they took photos of parking bays without signs.
What we advised the couple
We advised the couple to tell the hospital that the charge was unfair as the charging signs in place were conflicting. John contacted the hospital on 10 December. It said the ticket would be cancelled.
Despite this, he had a reminder from the firm running the new system. John said he wouldn’t pay. He finally learnt in January that the charge had been cancelled.
What the law says about parking charges
Car parks run by private firms are governed by contract law. Operators can decide which types of vehicle can use it, how long they can stay, how much they must pay, and enforce special bays.
If you break the car park’s conditions, you could get a parking ticket. But signs must be prominent and clearly state the terms. If you get a ticket for breaching a term you weren’t made adequately aware of, you may be able to challenge it with the car-park operator or in the County Court (Sheriff Court in Scotland).
Have you had an experience like Jeanette’s? Did you contest the charge?