Sunday, 23 September 2018
A WOMAN who helped six people overturn parking fines issued at Townlands Memorial Hospital has urged victims not to pay up.
Emma Heasman says that anyone who has been penalised unfairly does not have to pay and the enforcement company has no power to make them do so despite employing debt recovery firms to chase them for the money.
Miss Heasman, from Shiplake, spoke out after dozens of patients and relatives complained about being fined unfairly when using the hospital car park, which is monitored by Smart Parking using automatic number plate recognition cameras.
Miss Heasman appealed successfully when her husband Peter was issued with a fine after visiting the hospital in December. She also complained to the British Parking Association, which oversees the parking profession and to which Smart Parking belongs.
Miss Heasman said: “Peter drove in and dropped something off outside the hospital and we got a £100 fine. We ignored it.
“We started to get letters from debt collectors which made me really angry so I wrote to the BPA and got it revoked. It’s not actually a fine, it’s an invoice. That’s the really big thing.”
After the fine was overturned, she got in touch with other victims via Facebook to help them contest their fines.
She said: “People get these things through the post and panic. They think they have got a fine but it’s a private company contacting them to say they have breached a contract. If you don’t pay it you start to get letters from debt collectors but they are completely powerless and are just employed by the parking company to send out nasty letters.
“There was an old lady whose daughter dropped her off at the hospital and got a fine even though she had entered her registration details.
“I got in touch with her, helped her with the process and she also had her fine revoked. I helped a friend of mine and other people who I have contacted through Facebook. I’ve done about six people’s fines and they’ve all been revoked.”
Miss Heasman said anyone issued with a fine notice having correctly registered their vehicle’s details should contact the hospital and immediately appeal to both Smart Parking and the independent Parking on Private Land Appeals service.
She said: “If you get nowhere with the appeal you can still ignore it. You can also get in touch with the BPA and detail exactly what has happened. The main thing is never to pay it straight away because it’s an invoice, not a fine like you would get from the council. Debt collectors won’t come to your house.”
Miss Heasman claimed the hospital should be doing more to help patients who have been penalised. “Nobody is very impressed with the system,” she said. “It’s not working and a lot of big supermarkets have stopped using Smart Parking because so many people were getting fines.”
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