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Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Grace Period is not a Free Parking Period

Following yesterday's blog post The Prankster has had an interesting email from Mr James de Savary, which he prints below as a right of reply. The Prankster will always allow parking companies the right of reply if they wish to take him up on this - simply email to prankster@parking-prankster.com.

In a nutshell, Mr Savary has pointed out, and The Prankster agrees, that the grace period is not a free parking period. It has a specific purpose which is to allow the motorist to park, acquaint themselves with the conditions of parking, and then choose to stay or leave. It is not a five minute free for all where a motorist can nip off to buy something, post a letter, or in general leave the car park to do anything else.

A motorist can choose to risk doing this, but then they also run the risk of getting a ticket.

The BPA code of practice states
13.1 Your approach to parking management must allow a driver who enters your car park but decides not to park, to leave the car park within a reasonable period without
having their vehicle issued with a parking charge notice.
13.2 You should allow the driver a reasonable ‘grace period’ in which to decide if they are going to stay or go. If the driver is on your land without permission you should still
allow them a grace period to read your signs and leave before you take enforcement action.
The particular car park is used by many extremely short-stay visitors and so would suffer a significant loss of revenue if all motorists who wanted to nip into the shop for a few minutes decided not to pay the 40p charge. The attendant, who is uniformed, is therefore instructed to issue tickets to all motorists who leave without paying, and is also instructed to check all pay machines first and to make a detailed witness statement regarding the event.

The Prankster considers this to be reasonable behaviour.

Obviously in this particular case the accounts of motorist and attendant differ considerably. The Prankster advises whichever party is 'doing a Huhne' to reconsider and come clean.

Mr De Savary's email is reproduced below.

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Further to your recent blog regarding the Parking Charge Notice issued in ’12 seconds’ that we issued, I just thought I would drop you a note to give you a little back ground to the car park and my involvement in parking. I want to make it clear that I am not against what you do and in fact I believe that ‘online publicity’ such as yours can help to improve the industry. The objective of this email is to introduce myself, give you some information on Jengers Mead and how we operate the car park. You can then draw your own conclusions and of course send me any of your comments should you wish!

I am not soft to negative publicity so this is not a pleading email, you will draw your own conclusions. I just want to bring some facts to light about Napier and how I run the organisation.

I first became involved in the parking industry after possessing a car park with a property that I owned. That car park was free and I was the unpopular individual who introduced charges! I was not happy with the service that I received from an operator at the time and decided that if we ran the operation ‘in house’ we could have greater control. So Napier was established. Since 2006 we have grown quite substantially and the main focus of my business is to purchase land in order to run a commercial public car parks.

Jengers Mead Car Park is a property that we have owned since 2007 (or thereabouts). The car park has about 20 or so ‘on street’ type spaces and a larger car park to the rear of the shops, there are various access roads that we also own.

The car park used to be free and then we introduced charges, which as I am sure you are aware is generally not popular. The car park is critical to the village and we have always recognised this and have tried to keep the charges as reasonable as possible.

We charge;
Up to 20 minutes – 40p.
Up to 1 hour – 80p.
Up to 2 hours - £1.20.
And so on up to about £3 a day.
Permits £120 a year.

I personally feel this is not excessive.

There are 3 pay stations prominently placed evenly through the car park. There are signs approximately every 3 spaces in the ‘on street’ type areas. It is a well signed location.

We have engaged with the local community partnership and I have also invested in refund vouchers for the shops and made funds available to do a ‘refund scheme’ where shoppers can get deals for example in local shops. The idea to encourage people to pay and to reduce the impact of the charges. Some have been willing to engage but for many the parking is not an issue, despite what you read online.

We get quite a bit of negative feedback because a large number of visitors are only visiting for a short period of time. Perhaps only a few minutes, say to buy a sandwich or post a parcel. And we do insist that people pay and display even for these short visits. However a number do not (not many), I think they think, oh I will only be a few minutes they wont catch me or I am not paying if I am going to be less than 5 minutes. My view is that our product is parking and we charge for this. We therefore issue a few tickets to people in relatively quick time.

However I want to be perfectly clear that if someone is reading the signs and decides to leave or is in the process of buying a ticket, we will not issue them with a Notice. We will if someone parks and then goes about their business (out of the car park). We do therefore fully comply with the BPA grace period element, and we have had this raised before both with POPLA and the BPA and the BPA have always been satisfied with position when a complaint occasionally arises. The attendant is uniformed and does not ‘hide’ he is not incentivised and to be honest I would love it if everyone paid and displayed and then I could move him elsewhere! However people don’t, they begrudge our charges and risk it. Many returning directly to their car with goods purchased and the excuse, oh I just went for change, getting in their car and driving off. Clearly trying to deprive us of the small parking fee that we are entitled to.

Every Notice issued is quality checked and if there was any underhand behaviour we would know about it. I am sure the odd mistake happens but rarely and if we are aware of a mistake the Notice is cancelled.

The parking attendant also makes a witness statement for each ticket issued so we know where the driver went, how long they were and any interaction with our attendants. This helps us greatly with appeals.

There are some who would say that we should give 5 minutes. However as the majority of users are only making a short visit this would cost us hugely.

Before we chose a pay and display system for this location we looked at a barrier solution, however that doesn’t work, there are too many rights of access and adjoining properties, deliveries etc… So not only are their operational constrains there are also legal issues.

We have had the likes of Parking Eye attempting to get their hands on it, they would have a field day given the number of people who get away with not paying. However I have opted for a chap on the ground from time to time. A softer approach perhaps. Please I am not keen on the ANPR systems at the moment.

In respect of the incident that you reported, I have tried to match it with our records and I believe given the timings that I have. The gentleman was looking to make a quick stop in order to get something for his eyes. I believe the Chemist or relevant shop is just on the ‘High Street’ he was only going to be a couple of minutes as posted on the forum.

Our attendant saw the man park walk past the pay station and out of the car park, he was not reading the signs or deciding to stay or go. He went about his business. He then returned directly to his car at 1512hrs got in his car and left at 1513hrs. He was gone a couple of minutes and it is highly probable that he completed his business as he intended. How he has stated it on the forum is not factually correct and he is simply trying to get an angle together in order to escape paying. After all I bet he paid for the eye ointment that he purchased. Before issuing the ticket the attendant checks to ensure there is no voucher or permit displayed he then checks the pay stations, signs etc… to ensure that someone is not purchasing a ticket. In this case there was no ticket displayed and the attendant had observed the driver leave the car park.

The 12 second parking period is only detailed on the ticket for the purposes of satisfying the Protection of Freedoms Act. It is as you are aware necessary for all Notice to Drivers to refer to a parking period, the Act does not specify the min or max. So it is just to tick that box in case a Judge scrutinises the relevant section. In reality the driver was probably parked for around 4-5 minutes and made no effort to read signs or pay, he simply left the car park on his own business and we issued him with a ticket correctly. I doubt anyone can agree that he found the 40p charge too much and decided to leave?

I have not set the business up to make a quick buck. We have made serious investments in the industry and want to do things the ‘right way’ in many areas we have created a car park where none existed and invested in derelict sites for the benefit of local areas. We park many thousands of cars and have lots of happy customers who find our facilities well run and good value. I am not out to have our operatives issue loads of Parking Charge Notices, if I was I would install ANPR and cameras at all our sites and have a healthy income from that. However we will issue them and enforce them if necessary.

I do find it discourteous when people park on our land, land that in some cases we have invested millions in and think they can get away without paying. Motorists should take a moment when parking to just look around and make sure they park correctly, especially if they are new to an area.

For your info we have had 36 POPLA appeals decided to date for Jengers Mead Car Park. Of those 33 were rejected (in our favour) and 3 were accepted. So we must be getting something right…?

I hope you have found this email of some interest and am always happy to engage on the topic of parking.

Yours sincerely

James de Savary
Managing Director
Napier Parking Ltd


Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

11 comments:

  1. Perfectly valid thoughts and principles however you can't over ride contract law. The "fines" are penalties and if Beavis goes how it should and/or a popla appeal is made on gpeol the operator is in trouble.

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  2. If the attendant witnessed the driver leaving the car park then why did he not attempt to advise him of the need for him to issue a PCN in order to mitigate costs?

    It would appear that Napier Parking are not quite as reasonable as they are making out here...

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  3. It is unfortunate that local councils do not appear to think it vital to provide parking facilities (especially short-stay) which the local businesses need to sustain custom.

    This enables such companies as Napier Parking to step in and make a business doing just that. No slight intended on James de Savary; he is clearly a business man seeing an opportunity. Which was effectively an opportunity provided by the inaction of the council IMHO.

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  4. Yet again, some body in medical need, victimised by these parking "fines." I do hope his eye is better. Has anyone escelated this to "The Daily Mail" who are running a campaign against these sort of money makers.

    Love this phrase, wonder if the mind reading attendant could predict some lottery numbers for me......


    "Our attendant saw the man park walk past the pay station and out of the car park, he was not reading the signs or deciding to stay or go."

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  5. Quite simply he's not interested in the 40p for parking, but the unlawful penalty! It would literally take hundreds of short stayers to make up for one invoice on screen. I'm sorry but I do not believe he is being upfront here, there is to much in it for him. His company and himself are not to be trusted IMO

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    Replies
    1. I tend to agree. The charges are a little too reasonable, too reasonable to earn a living from. I counted approx. 70 spaces on google earth so if we can rough out 50p per hour per space to allow for turnover, the whole thing would only yield £35 per hour. The temptation to slip in a £45 - £90 sPeCulative iNvoice must be immense.

      On the other hand, the email in it's entirety all seems quite reasonable and not written by the usual knuckle dragging parking weasel. But then again, a google search on the name reveals far too much negativity to be just the odd opportunistic motorist chancing their arm.

      If ever I found myself down that way I would be inclined try a bit of mystery shopping.

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  6. All very eloquent with that rebuttal is Mr de Savary, but he forgets one very important point. Why did the attendant do nothing to mitigate the parking company's loss?

    There's a detailed description of what the attendant witnessed and how that is carefully noted down. If he's close enough to witness what the motorist did he's close enough to inform the motorist he must pay for his parking before walking away. Mr de Savary seems well aware of what goes on in the Private Parking Industry so one would assume he's aware of 'VCS-v-Ibbotson'. To use the judge's words in that case: "You can walk off, not a problem, £80." Even more clear cut in this case, as unlike in VCS-v-Ibbotson, this isn't a free car park, so there is a tangible loss that can be mitigated.

    So. Failure to mitigate loss, plus the POPLA slam-dunk of not GPEOL. I'd still recommend this motorist appeals.

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  7. parking eye have put this on their website.http://www.parkingeye.co.uk/motorist-information/parkingeye-win-cambridge-test-case/
    I read the judgement here http://www.legalbeagles.info/judgments/CambridgeJudgmentParkingEye.pdf
    To me it seems that they have portrayed the judges decision in a misleading fashion as I do not think they did win all points.
    My question is though does that means all the arguments are now finished and they win???

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    Replies
    1. No because this judgment only applies to a certain type of car park, where parkingeye pay £1000 a week to the landowner, and this is only a small claims decision, so not binding. Realistically, many junior judges are following this judgment, so until the appeal is heard in Feb 2015 the best chance is to get your case stayed until after the appeal. The case breaks new legal ground, so the appeal result is very much up in the air.

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    2. thank you for your reply. I have 2 tickets from the Aldi car park. I was given a reference from Aldi and they said do not pay the ticket whilst their in house parking department came back to me. They took a week came back to me and said nothing they can do. Then when I asked will you explain the delay to parking eye was while I was waiting for your help as they will now want double the original ticket he said thats nothing to do with us and said I am going now and then hung up. Wont be shopping at Aldi again.

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  8. Scott have you tried using Parking Appeals to get rid of your tickets?

    ReplyDelete