‘It’s modern day piracy’ - taxi firms hit out at private parking charges
- Credit: Steve Adams
The boss of the largest taxi company in Norfolk has hit out at private parking fines, branding them 'modern piracy'.
Simon Callender, director of ABC Taxis in Norwich, said he receives up to 10 invoices for private parking charges every week - which he throws away.
And cab companies across the region say they are bombarded with invoices from companies using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras, for picking up and dropping off customers at shops, doctors' surgeries and hospital residences.
Mr Callender, 59, said: 'The thing with taxis which they don't seem to understand is that we don't actually park.
'There are certain places where just for picking up someone from the premises you get a ticket.
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'I must have thrown three away today. It's getting out of hand.
'It's modern day piracy - they're preying on the vulnerable.
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'If they send out enough threatening letters saying 'it's now doubled and you'll get bailiffs round' it frightens people.'
Mr Callender, from Norwich, said he won't pay the charges, which can range from £40 to £160, unless there's a good reason.
He said: 'If we're clearly in the wrong I think that's justified but not if is not causing lost income.'
Mr Callender, who has worked at ABC for 20 years, said he has given up appealing the notices, which have become an increasing problem in the past five years.
'I would happily argue my case in court,' he said.
Cab company bosses want the ANPR parking firms to be more accountable and easier to contact.
John Walker, Enterprise Taxis director, said he had received 1,000 notices in the past four years.
He spoke out about the issue after a driver who dropped off a customer in a wheelchair at a doctors appointment in Norwich was faced with a ticket after getting a flat tyre - and so was the breakdown vehicle sent to help.
Mr Walker, 45, said: 'The people I'm trying to help are the 50 year olds and above who will just get the ticket and pay - it's not fair.
'It's automated and takes your number plate as you go in and out. That's where the problem lies.
'You can't talk to anybody. You just have to email and appeal and they tell you to pay up.'
Mr Walker, who has run his firm since 2014, said: 'At least in the old days people used to have a gun if they wanted to rob you but now people think they can con you out of money at every turn.'
'It's not worth the hassle' - charges leave cab driver refusing to collect nurses
Peter Roberts, from King's Lynn Taxis said due to private parking charges he can no longer collect nurses from the hospital residence.
Mr Roberts, 62, said: 'I had one the other week at King's Lynn hospital residence where all the nurses live.
'You only get 10 minutes waiting time and I was early to pick a nurse up from the residence and she was late.
'Three days later I got a ticket for £60 - I appealed and they wouldn't accept it.'
Mr Roberts paid a £25 administration charge, after involving staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).
'I don't pick up from there any more,' he added.
'It's not worth £60 and all the hassle if I can't do my job properly.'
And Kevin Boyone, general manager of Swift Taxis in Great Yarmouth, described the charges as 'a nightmare'.
Mr Boyone, 46, said: 'They [the companies] are a law unto themselves. The letters aren't penalty charge notices.
'You have to try and figure out if they are legit or not.'
What did the parking companies say?
Taxi firms said they received notices from companies including ParkingEye, Civil Enforcement Ldt., National Parking Enforcement, Norwich Traffic Control, and Park With Ease.
When numbers listed on four out of five of these websites were called by the EDP, they went straight to payment lines or were unanswered.
But a Norwich Traffic Control spokesperson said charges would depend on the site they were on, and the company was 'not there to penalise people who are trying to make a living'.
They said: 'We're always there on the landowners' behalf and people do fail to notice we are there under instruction. On one of our sites we have 11 signs, and there's always a grace period.
'We have had elderly people who can't make it to the door [of a property] because people are parking and blocking.
'Companies issuing a ticket for under three minutes should be ashamed, but if [people] sit there for 10 or 15 minutes they incur a charge.'