Home   News   Article

Elderly Inverness couple fight back against city centre parking regime

By Erin Miller

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
John and Annette West. Picture: Callum Mackay..
John and Annette West. Picture: Callum Mackay..

An elderly couple from Inverness have taken matters into their own hands after receiving two fines from a city centre car park.

Annette and John West are the latest to complain about the regime at the Rose Street Retail Park car park, run by Britannia Parking.

The retired couple, aged 82 and 83 respectively, believe “everyone you speak to has a story to do with this car park” calling some of the reports they have seen online as "pretty damning".

Mrs West had an initial fine issued by the company dismissed after providing proof of purchase for a parking ticket and informing the company of a fault with their ticketing machine.

A week later, however, she received a second fine.

“I received two fines in consecutive weeks and I have got both the tickets, but you know most people don’t keep their tickets,” she said.

“We did receive a letter to say that their machine was out of action, but then I had another fine the next week and I don’t think I have heard back from them since then.

“I think they are actually being a bit fraudulent. I hold on to my tickets, but most people wouldn’t have the tickets so would have no way to prove that they had bought their ticket.”

Mrs West shared her concerns with the company itself, in a letter she has shared with the Courier.

“In these circumstances pursuing these charges amounts to fraudulent trading where your victims had little opportunity of rejecting your malign demands,” she told them.

Mr West also wrote to trading standards telling them: “This company had been advised by ourselves that the situation at their facility in Inverness was causing financial demands to be made when there was a fault in the system.

“This should have triggered investigations to ensure that the error was corrected.

“This was not done and has resulted in my wife being subjected once again to the same mistake, one which again she was able to counter, again by having retained her receipt.

“This means that Britannia have been demanding payment from a significant number of customers who have paid on site but are unable to provide the receipt proof.”

He also went on to estimate the potential scale of the issue: “The letter we wrote to them highlighted the fact that there was an error and they needed to correct it. Well, the fact that they ignored that, because the second one was stimulated, proved that it was very convenient for them.

“The trouble is the abuse is making them a lot of money, so there is not a lot of incentive for them to stop the abuse unless they are called up.

“I have done a few estimations of the number of tickets that would have been issued and the amount of money involved is really quite substantial, because it is quite a busy car park and we are talking about £60 to £100 fines for everyone who is using it.

“I just estimated that there were 400 cars per day using the car park – I am sure there are actually a lot more – but there is no way of proving that.

“Assuming that even half paid by card this would leave 200 people per day subject to a £60 demand, equating overall to a total of £12,000 per day in erroneous payments.

“Over a week, assuming my figure, the unwarranted demands would amount to £84,000. If people challenged the demand and exceeded the 14 days the daily charges would escalate to £20,000 per day or £140,000 a week.”

Mr West said he worried about the potential impact on the city centre if problems at the car park continue.

“The problem is that the town needs people to come in and so on and so forth, but if people are frightened to park they are not going to come into town, are they?” he said.

Mrs West added: “It is clearly having an effect on them because I have never seen so many empty parking spaces in this car park.”

Last month, in a letter to another disgruntled driver who managed to have an erroneous fine cancelled, Britannia Parking admitted issues at the site.

"We have discovered a technical issue with the pay machine on site which meant that your parking transactions made to the affected machine were not being received by our back office system," the firm told David Scott.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More