Drivers face court action over parking fines they claim are 'harsh and unfair'
PUBLISHED: 15:53 28 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:53 28 June 2019
Drivers are facing legal action over unpaid parking fines at a Norwich shopping centre - but many have vowed to fight back.
Private parking operator National Parking Enforcement Ltd (NPE), which manages Earlham House car park, off Earlham Road, is demanding payments of £250 in the small claims court against drivers who have failed to pay for parking charge notices dating back to 2017 and 2018.
But drivers and shopkeepers say the fines are for minor infringements and described the terms and conditions of the car park as harsh and unfair.
While NPE did not comment specifically on the matter, they said it is likely the drivers received court letters because they did not appeal the charge correctly or ignored warning letters.
The parking rules at Earlham House has been a contentious issue for some years, with traders claiming the way NPE deals with parking contravention is driving customers away.
While the car park is free to use for an hour, fines are issued for drivers who leave a child in a car while using a parent parking space and for tyres touching the white line.
Caroline Sykes, 45, of Sandringham Road, said she received a fine in January 2018 after leaving her disabled eight-year-old child in the car "for a matter of minutes" while she popped into the post office.
"I parked in front of the post office so I could see her in the car, I went in to get a stamp and got out," she said. "There are a lot of us that think these tickets are harsh and unfair, it's for minor issues and it's not hurting anyone."
She and up to 20 other people who have been handed a court letter this month are contesting the fines.
She said: "We decided we want to try and stand up to them. I know the rules are there but they are ridiculous. People have been really intimidated and they do harass you."
Denise Carlo, Green city councillor for Nelson ward, said the matter had taken a turn for the worse, and added: "It's absolutely shocking. Customers have been deterred from shopping at Earlham House by the parking operator and the way they conduct themselves."
An NPE spokesman said: "The most likely reason that these drivers have received court letters is that they may have failed to correctly appeal the charge and have simply chosen to ignore our letters.
"This simply highlights the fact that the public should not take advice from the internet concerning the non-payment of parking charge notices."