Driver fights parking fine at Five Valleys car park, Stroud

AN 80-year-old driver says he is determined to win a battle over a £100 parking fine which he has branded a ‘disgraceful’.

Anthony Birch, a former tax inspector, has hit out after being handed the fine in Stroud’s Five Valleys multi-storey car park.

Mr Birch, of Bisley Road, Stroud, is the latest motorist to question charges issued by the centre’s parking operator, Civil Enforcement Ltd.

The pensioner popped into town on Sunday, October 9 and, following the instructions on the car park’s ticket machine, tried using his phone to pay the £1 charge.

He then headed to the shops with wife Marie.

However, he felt concerned that the transaction might not have been successful and so, 20 minutes later, the couple returned and bought a ticket with cash from a machine and put it in their car.

They then resumed their shopping trip, feeling satisfied that they had the situation covered.

Mr Birch said he was then horrified to receive a fine in the post for £100.

He checked his bank statement to see if the transaction had gone through, and found that using his phone he had paid 1p twice to the parking company, and it had been refunded both times.

He appealed to the parking company, explaining his situation.

“I included a copy of my bank statement, showing that I had tried to pay, but they rejected the appeal,” he said.

“I’m 80 years old – we don’t get on with tech.

“I genuinely thought I had done what I should, but I didn’t feel comfortable about it, so we went back and bought another ticket to make sure.

“I’ve tried ringing the company but it’s all automated and you can’t speak to anyone.

“Surely they must consider that I fully intended to pay by phone or I would not have registered with them.

“It was an afterthought that I may not have paid properly by phone and that is why I went back and put a ticket in the car.

“I would never do the wrong thing by intention, and feel like companies like this need to have some compassion for people particularly in these difficult days.

“That’s why I’m fighting this fine – because another old person might have paid it.

“It’s disgraceful.”

Mr Birch had now lodged an appeal with parking ombudsman, POPLA.

Last summer the SNJ reported how several drivers were challenging fines at the car park.

Tony Davey, chairperson of Stroud Chamber of trade, said he has been working with the centre management team for some time to reduce these situations.

“This has resulted in some changes of policy and a couple of updates to the way the machines work,” said Tony Davey.

“We encourage anyone who has a fine they believe to be inaccurate to take it up with the car park operator.”

A spokesperson from the Five Valleys Shopping Centre said: “We work with an automatic number plate recognition company specialising in car park management up and down the country ensuring an easy to use payment system is in place where people can use cash, card or a mobile phone app to make payment by entering their full correct registration details within twenty minutes of entering the car park.

“If customers feel they have received a parking fine unfairly we would urge them to contact with their PCN number so we can look into this further.

“Similarly, if customers are worried that they may be issued with a fine due to overstaying, experiencing issues with the machines or being delayed on exit we are also happy to discuss to try and help prevent a fine being issued.”

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