November 8, 2018 4.29 pm This story is over 64 months old

Smart Parking responds to disgruntled Skegness customers

Response after weeks of complaints

A parking firm which has been at the centre of complaints from drivers in Skegness over ‘inaccurate fines’ and ‘misleading signage’ has finally issued a response to the comments.

Lincolnshire Reporter put each complaint it had received to the company for them to address. Some complaints were dismissed and argued to have been correctly issued. Others, the company said, did not provide enough information.

As previously reported, multiple drivers claimed back in June to have been issued inaccurate fines at the main car park at Fantasy Island on Sea Lane.

Photo: Sam Buckenham

Some alleged they received fines despite having ‘valid tickets’ and people were unhappy at what they believed to be a ‘faulty’ ticket machine.

Many customers, and indeed Lincolnshire Reporter staff, were unable to speak to a car park operator on the number provided.

A reviewer said they had reported the parking firm. Photo: Google review of Smart Parking

Smart Parking response

Smart Parking contacted Lincolnshire Reporter to indicate they would investigate the cases of five motorists of the 10 complaints we sent them.

The additional appeals could not be investigated as Smart Parking said there was not enough information to be able to look into them fully.

Of the five investigated, all of them used the company’s appeals service.

One charge was cancelled at appeal, while another case was closed as Smart Parking believe the customer paid for an hour and stayed for 105 minutes so the fine was “correctly issued” (which the customer has now paid).

For two cases they could not find any record of them paying for the correct parking and have rejected the appeals. Those customers have now gone to the independent appeals service POPLA, with Smart Parking saying they will “abide by the decision it makes”.

Sam Buckenham received a letter from Smart Parking about the fine. Photo: Sam Buckenham

Sam Buckenham’s ticket, which he later received a fine about. Photo: Sam Buckenham

In the other case the customer told Smart Parking they had paid for two hours, but they said she only paid for one and stayed in the car park for 88 minutes.

This customer also highlighted to them that she displayed a Blue Badge, but Smart Parking said Blue Badges are not applicable on private land and they are awaiting payment of the charge from this person.

Smart Parking said they would encourage any motorist who receives a penalty charge to contact them should they believe that they have “genuinely mitigating circumstances”.

Stopping parking abuse

A Smart Parking spokesperson said: “Smart Parking were engaged to manage the car park at Fantasy Island in Skegness in order to stop parking abuse, and to make sure visitors can always find somewhere to park.

“To achieve this, we installed an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) parking management system which monitors cars entering and exiting the car park, treating all motorists equally. ANPR is a standard system for the parking industry and is used in many thousands of car parks across the UK.

“At Fantasy Island there are a significant quantity of signs across the site which clearly explain the terms and conditions of use, including ANPR and we would remind any motorist that when parking on private land they should always read these before deciding to park.

“Further, Smart Parking are members of the British Parking Association (BPA), and as such, we strictly follow the associations guidelines. Additionally, we operate a BPA-audited appeals process and would encourage any motorist who receives a penalty charge to contact us should they believe that they have genuinely mitigating circumstances.”

British Parking Association

The British Parking also launched an investigation about the issue over the summer and found Smart Parking did not breach its code of practice.

Reporters responded to the BPA regarding the outcome pointing out that one of the main issues at the car park appears to be that signs are displaying one price per hour, then people are getting letters with prices different to this.

A second investigation was launched and it was again concluded there has been no breach of code of practice.