SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Company apologises after drivers wrongly hit with parking fines in Chesterfield
A controversial company has apologised after drivers were wrongly slapped with parking fines in Chesterfield.
The Derbyshire Times has been contacted by motorists who paid to leave their cars at the Brewery Street car park for 15 hours but were issued with £100 fines in the 13th hour.
Excel Parking Services Ltd, which owns the car park near Chesterfield train station, said the drivers will not have to pay the charges – after we stepped in to investigate the matter.
The Sheffield-based firm also confirmed it had launched a ‘thorough’ probe into why the problem happened.
Steve Robinson was issued with a parking charge notice (PCN) when he used the car park on Monday, February 29.
He bought a ticket at 9.16am, paying £3 for 15 hours of parking – meaning he could leave his car there until 12.16am the following day.
However, Mr Robinson was slapped with the £100 fine at 10.27pm.
When he got back to his car about ten minutes later, he found out his ticket incorrectly showed 10.16pm as the expiry time.
Mr Robinson called for our news team to investigate the issue after he complained to Excel but didn’t receive a response.
The 56-year-old, of Bakewell, said: “I’m furious about the whole situation.
“How many more people have been ripped-off?”
In another case reported to the Derbyshire Times, a woman paid £3 to park at the site for 15 hours between 6.10am and 9.10pm on Saturday, February 27.
She was issued with her £100 fine at 7.11pm just as she was returning to collect her car and later realised the ticket erroneously stated the expiry time as 7.10pm.
A spokesman for Excel told the Derbyshire Times: “We are sorry to find that these individuals received PCNs in error and these have been duly cancelled with immediate effect; we are appreciative that they have also raised the matter through our appeals procedure.
“We will be confirming this decision to them in writing, accompanied by our most sincere apologies.
“While our records indicate that no payment has been received against either of the PCNs, we will be making compensatory offers in recognition of events.
“We acknowledge that the requisite parking fee was made to cover 15 hours of parking but the expiry time printed on the pay and display tickets only reflected 13 hours.
“While we are conducting a thorough investigation into the matter, our patrol officers have been instructed to be vigilant until we have remedied the problem.”
The spokesman also denied allegations that Excel ordered the installation of a concrete block at the entrance to the car park of the former Chesterfield Hotel in a move to stop people parking there for free.
He said: “The company has no knowledge or has had any involvement in the installation of the concrete block.”
Excel, which is owned by millionaire Derbyshire businessman Simon Renshaw-Smith, was founded in 1993 and operates car parks around the country.
Last April, the firm recorded a turnover of £13.7million – up from £12.5m the previous year – and an operating profit of more than £1.1m.
The company has been at the centre of a number of controversies – and court cases.
Last summer, Reverend Rodney Breckon was left shocked after he was handed a parking fine – for displaying his ticket in the wrong part of his car.
The clergyman said he was ‘horrified’ to discover he had been slapped with a £100 fine in Burton because his parking ticket was not displayed in his windscreen but on his passenger side window.
Excel said he had not adhered to rules set out at the car park relating to ticket placement.
In 2011, motorist Martin Cutts won an 18-month court battle over a parking fine after a judge ruled that the pay-and-display signs at an Excel car park in Stockport were too small.