Hospital staff hit with thousands of pounds worth of parking fines and threatened with bailiffs say they are determined to fight back.
Lincoln County Hospital nurses claim to have come home to parking charges up to £5,000 in the last few days, some of which date back to four years ago.
Nearly 400 people have joined a social media group to raise questions and awareness, and to try fight the fines. They have even set up a fundraiser to pay for a legal adviser to hear their case.
All of the letters are from Total Parking Solutions (TPS) Limited, which was employed by United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust five years ago.
The letters demand varying levels of payments for the original parking charges, as well as legal costs.
At least four people have even been taken to County Court after ignoring the letters, leaving them with a hefty bill to pay, threats of bailiffs and a black mark against their names.
One former employee, who asked not to be named, told The Lincolnite that staff are losing sleep over the fines.
“Car parking was a constant thorn in the side of staff during the TPS reign,” they said. “The parking firm would ticket us for anything and many refused to pay at the time.
“Staff already have highly stressful jobs. I am certain they would not let it affect their patient care but it all adds to the mental and emotional load.
“I know of lots of people who go home dreading that they’ve got another letter from the post. It’s caused a lot of anxiety and anguish for some.”
Another person, who still works for the hospital and also asked to remain anonymous, told The Lincolnite they tried to fight the parking charge years ago.
“I got a parking charge in 2014, accused of parking inappropriately. I tried to fight the fine but after a few attempts I asked for a reference number to go through an independent team that helps with appeals.
“They were legally required to give me that reference but they didn’t send anything else after that. I thought that was the end of it until I got a letter demanding payment through the post.”
Paul Boocock, director of estates and facilities at ULHT, said: “We are aware that some of our staff have recently received letters from our previous car parking provider, TPS, for unpaid fines.
“Any member of staff who has received a letter like this is advised to contact the company itself to discuss outstanding charges.
“We are working with TPS to make sure they are only contacting those who have not paid all of their previous fines.”
A spokesperson for TPS told The Lincolnite that their operatives only issue parking charges to a motorist in breach of terms and conditions: “At all times, TPS have acted within the scope and authority of the NHS Trust in implementing a parking management scheme at the hospitals for over five years.
“The sites in question had clearly displayed terms and conditions of parking. Compliance of such terms is crucial to the operations and safety of the sites. We are an accredited operator of the British Parking Association and our practices and signage have been thoroughly vetted and we remain compliant with the BPA’s code of practice.
“Whilst a motorist has the option to dispute a PCN or subsequently have the matter independently adjudicated by the independent appeals body (POPLA), it is unfortunate that some people ignored these parking charge notices despite receiving various notices and reminders which leaves us little option but pursue the outstanding charges using debt recovery processes. We would much rather avoid such action, and would prefer motorists to engage in proactive dialogue with us.
“We are happy to look at any individual queries and assess on a case by case basis and are hopeful that we can resolve any issues. For avoidance of doubts, any recent case relates to unchallenged notices issued between 2014 and 2016, which remain largely undisputed.”
TPS no longer manages parking at the hospital. ULHT recently awarded the contact instead to ParkingEye, which went on to install a new CCTV system and payment machines.
The transition hasn’t been a smooth one, with multiple complaints piling about fines and broken machines.