Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Eastgate parking issue - National Motorists Action Group step in to help

NMAG looking to take a test case to civil court and shed light on the companies involved.
The National Motorists Action Group have approached my office and told me that they are prepared to look at assisting those who have paid the fines (and are being refused a refund) on a pro-bono basis to seek justice and refunds for motorists unfairly penalised at Eastgate Car Park (as yet it isn’t clear as to which company is operating the car park).

In the first instance, they will require a copy (or copies) of the Parking Charge Notice and any background details of monies paid and to whom (with the consent of the PCN recipient) and I will be writing to all those who have contacted me to inform them of the National Motorists Action Group intentions. teh NMAG will be seeking photographs of signage at the site at the time of PCN issue and tickets.

It isn’t clear at this stage where Excel Parking Services and VCS fit into the equation. 

The whole basis of ‘enforcement’ is contract law whereby the driver of a vehicle enters into a contract with the landowner but there are many grey areasThe NMAG will need sight of paperwork issued in order to form a view of the best approach to take.

Background and general concerns about parking on private land -

However, one of the main concerns that thet the NMAG have is that the likes of Excel Parking Services and VCS  are accessing (via an electronic link for £2.50 per registration number) a public data base ( the DVLA Registered Keeper data base) without checks and scrutiny and the only ‘regulation’ is the adherence to a voluntary Code of Practice and regulation by an accredited trade association from whom membership is required. This ‘access’ to a public data base was only ever supposed to be where reasonable cause could be demonstrated but now there are wholesale downloads to private land parking companies harvesting vehicle registration numbers for alleged misdemeanours via ANPR cameras on private land.

The British Parking Association is the accredited trade body and membership of their AOS (Approved Operators Scheme) allows electronic access to the DVLA data base. More …

This public data base is now generating vast profits for the likes of Excel Parking Services whose latest accounts show Total Current Assets: £5,992,767 (The sum of Stocks, Trade Debtors, Cash and Miscellaneous Current Assets in 2011) and Vehicle Control Services Ltd. who have a common director in Simon Renshaw Smith

However, there are real serious concerns at the behaviour of certain companies and the failure by the BPA to self-regulate and control what has now become a very lucrative ‘industry’, all built on the back of what should be protected public data.

The concerns are so serious that the DVLA have taken to suspending access to the data base. Excel is one of the current suspended companies.

However, the NMAG do need absolute clarification as to who is operating the site, who is issuing the PCNs and who is collecting the money and why there appears to be cross-over between VCS and Excel who are two separate legal entities despite sharing the same Director Mr. Simon Renshaw-Smith.

This article from earlier in the year shows a similar situation surrounding signage and Vehicle 
Control Services Ltd are involved in a VAT case which could have massive implications for all similar private land operators