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Ex-inspector overturns £100 parking fine for four-minute post office stop

PUBLISHED: 06:15 28 February 2020 | UPDATED: 14:40 28 February 2020

The private car park at Earlham House on Earlham Road in Norwich which is the cause of controversy over parking fines. Adam Hayes (pictured) won a court case to overturn the charge. Picture: Archant

The private car park at Earlham House on Earlham Road in Norwich which is the cause of controversy over parking fines. Adam Hayes (pictured) won a court case to overturn the charge. Picture: Archant

Archant

A former police officer has accused a parking company of threatening motorists after he overturned a £100 penalty for a four-minute stop.

The terms and conditions of parking at Earlham House on Earlham Road in Norwich. Picture: Neil DidsburyThe terms and conditions of parking at Earlham House on Earlham Road in Norwich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Inspector Adam Hayes parked behind the post office at Earlham House in Norwich in May 2017 to pick up a parcel for Norfolk police.

Mr Hayes, who has since retired, said he regularly parked there on police business, but this time he received a penalty notice from National Parking Enforcement (NPE).

The parking rules at Earlham House have been contentious for years, with traders claiming in 2016 that customers were being driven away.

Mr Hayes, 52, refused to pay the charge, arguing that the signage was poor, and motorists were allowed to stay for 10 minutes free.

Former inspector Adam Hayes overturned the parking charge. Picture: ArchantFormer inspector Adam Hayes overturned the parking charge. Picture: Archant

NPE rejected his appeal and took him to Norwich County Court, but at a hearing on Thursday Mr Hayes won.

District Judge Nicholas Reeves criticised NPE for not including photos of a sign showing Mr Hayes was allowed to park for free for 10 minutes.

"I'm very disappointed," Judge Reeves said.

He also ordered Norwich-based NPE to pay Mr Hayes £330 travel costs as he had come from his home in France for the hearing.

"The signage is woefully inadequate" the ex-Met inspector told the court. "In my opinion it (the charges) are a licence to print money."

"I was not going to be threatened," he added after the hearing.

Judge Reeves said he was dealing with a host of parking charge cases at the moment before a law change comes in bringing in stricter regulation of private parking firms.

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Another motorist, Gary Groom was also taken to county court on Thursday by NPE for failing to pay for a ticket at Earlham House in September 2017.

The tree surgeon said he pulled over at around 8am to take a phone call and parked at Earlham House so as not to block Earlham Road with his truck and trailer.

He said he did not see the sign when he drove in.

However, Judge Reeves said NPE had acted appropriately and Mr Groom had to pay the £100 fine plus £100 court costs.

Gary Groom lost his case to overturn a parking charge at Earlham House. Picture: Gary GroomGary Groom lost his case to overturn a parking charge at Earlham House. Picture: Gary Groom

The 47-year old, from Sprowston, said he fought the charge out of principle but accepted the judge's decision.

NPE has been contacted for comment.

-The law

Parking on private land is governed by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

Under that law, parking firms must put up a clear sign in the car park showing what the charges and terms and conditions are. If they follow that and their code of practice, then there is little a judge can do to overturn a charge.

In the case of Mr Hayes, District Judge Nicholas Reeves said the signs were not clear, but in the case of Mr Groom, who parked in a different section of the same car park, he ruled the signage was adequate.

Mr Hayes said: "I defended the case because I was not going to be threatened by higher fees or the threat of debt collectors. People should not be daunted by these threats.

"If you have done everything properly then there is a good chance you can win. My advice would be if you feel you have a defence take lots of photos and do your research."

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