Car park owners hit back after councillor calls for investigation of parking ‘regime’

NEW parking regulations at a car park on Broughshane Street have been labelled “unfair” by SDLP Councillor Declan O’Loan who has raised the matter at Council level.

The site owners, however, say a system has been put in place “to ensure that genuine customers can park without risk of receiving a parking ticket – whilst restricting abuse by other drivers”.

They stated “This car park was heavily abused by local workers and people visiting other premises, to the detriment of the retailers at our property. There is nothing more offputting than arriving at a shop’s car park and not being able to find a parking space because the car park is full and congested.

“Because the car park was always full, potential shoppers assumed that the shops were also busy and congested and opted to make to make their purchases elsewhere. The parking abuse was having a dramatic negative effect on our retailer’s trade.”

“We now have a system in place to ensure that genuine customers can park without risk of receiving a parking ticket – whilst restricting abuse by other drivers,” the site owners stated.

Meanwhile, Cllr O’Loan has called on Council officers to investigate “the parking regime” at what he described as “the Co-op site”.

He said: “This car park is on private property and the parking regime is totally different to that which applies on the street or in Roads Service car parks.”

The Councillor said that while he ‘fully accepted’ that there has to be a system of parking control to deter parking abuse, he was concerned about the penalties being charged, describing them as “totally unreasonable”.

“I have been contacted by a number of persons who have received penalty demands out of the blue in the post and on inquiry I have discovered that they are the tip of the iceberg. They have got demands for £150 which is reduced to £75 if paid within a short period of time, thereby putting pressure on people to pay up at once. They have no idea as to whether these demands are valid and what would be the consequences if they do not pay,” said Mr O’Loan.

He continued: “I have discovered that the permitted time at the Co-op site was reduced in recent months from an hour and a half to one hour. The signs showing this are very small and I believe that hundreds of motorists have been caught out, in my opinion, quite unfairly”.

Alun Marks of Civil Enforcement stated: “We have placed prominent signage around the car park, detailing the terms and conditions of parking. Drivers, by their action of leaving their vehicle, enter into a contract with us. As a service to the community, drivers who are not customers are still able to benefit from short term parking up to the maximum stay allowance, which would not be the case if we used barriers with in-store checkout validated tickets for exit.

“Our efficient approach has resulted in increased turnover for many of our customers. Our service is designed to encourage efficient use of parking spaces. I have personally seen many car parks that are full, long before the shops open. Our system eradicates this abuse.”

“Civil Enforcement operates over 700 purchased, leased and managed car parks and issue a considerable number of parking tickets every year. We act for numerous blue chip clients, many of whom are national retailers. Landlords must have the right to protect their land. It is a fact that our high-tech approach to managing retail car parks is less confrontational than clamping and towing – and is certainly more beneficial to drivers who do not suffer any delays or inconvenience – or extortionate release fees”.

Mr Marks added: “We were the first company in the United Kingdom to offer maximum free stay parking regulations, monitored by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras. We are Approved Operators of the British Parking Association (BPA) and are subject to regular audit by the DVLA. The BPA’s new Code of Practice together the rigorous DVLA requirements have removed the cowboy elements and bully boy tactics that used to be associated with the parking industry”.

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