Pensioner fined £140 for parking ticket mistake at Norwich Community Hospital
- Credit: Archant
Charity chiefs want action to curb Norwich parking enforcement firms after a pensioner was handed a £140 parking charge when he mistakenly typed a zero instead of the letter 'O' when buying his ticket.
Brian Moore, 72, made the slight error in entering his car registration at the ticket machine when he visited Norwich Community Hospital, in Bowthorpe Road, in March for diabetes treatment.
But seven weeks later he received a demand for £100 from car park operators Civil Enforcement Limited, later upped to £140.
Norfolk Citizens Advice has taken up his case - and said it was one of many similar complaints it had received.
Mr Moore, from Sprowston, said: 'I actually found the ticket and I went to the police at first because I thought it might be a hoax.'
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He then wrote to the company with a copy of the ticket, but he said Civil Enforcement refused to accept the matter as a genuine mistake, and instead increased its demand to £140.
Norfolk Citizens Advice has since helped Mr Moore to write a further letter to the company. Civil Enforcement said Mr Moore's penalty was cancelled after his appeal and a letter of confirmation was sent, but Mr Moore said he had not received a letter.
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'I was angry at the time because I knew I had paid,' he said. 'But I was worried I would end up in court. I think they think old people are just going to panic and pay. It's heavy-handed.'
Norfolk Citizens Advice said it planned to raise the 'controversial methods' with Norwich South MP Clive Lewis when he visited the charity on Thursday.
It reported a steady stream of complaints from clients facing demands from private parking companies totalling hundreds of pounds, including another two at the hospital, where tickets were printed with registration numbers incomplete, despite being typed in correctly.
Acting chief executive David Potten said: 'Many of the demands seem to us to be frankly unethical. Given the requests we have received for help and advice - and the number of complaints posted on the hospital's own website - I really feel action is called for. And I question whether the hospital trust should be allowing these practices to be happening on its property.
'I hope Clive Lewis will be able to take up the matter on behalf of our clients.'
Mr Lewis said: 'It's Labour policy to end parking charges at hospitals and because we are committed to funding the NHS properly, there won't be any negative implications for hospital services.'
Paul Larman, estate manager for Norwich Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCHC), which runs the hospital, said: 'We are concerned to hear about the recent poor experience of some of our patients when dealing with Civil Enforcement Limited, the debt collecting arm of ParkSolve who manage our carpark, over disputed car parking fines.
'We will be taking up the issue with ParkSolve on Mr Moore's behalf, and investigating other reported instances. We will be in touch with Norfolk Citizens' Advice to advise them of the outcome of different complaints, but meanwhile we would like to reassure Mr Moore, specifically, that he need not pay the fine. Anyone who feels they have been issued with a ticket or a fine in error has the right to appeal it by contacting Civil Enforcement Limited. We hold regular meetings with ParkSolve, the contractor and we will always investigate complaints.'