Parking fines firm admits misleading motorists

The company that controls parking at a Black Country shopping centre has admitted misleading motorists, after drivers complained they were wrongly fined.

Parking fines firm admits misleading motorists

The company that controls parking at a Black Country shopping centre has admitted misleading motorists, after drivers complained they were wrongly fined.

Trading Standards officers launched an investigation into Observices Parking Consultancy, which controls parking at St John's Retail Park, Wolverhampton, after shoppers complained over fines issued for parking there.

Shoppers can leave a vehicle for two hours without charge but are fined £100 if they stay longer and warned the bill could rise to £400 if the ticket is challenged.

The car park is monitored by cameras that take a timed photo of vehicles arriving and leaving but there was confusion involving cars visiting twice in one day.

Several drivers alleged that, after making two visits to the site, they received a fine despite never staying more than two hours.

There is also concern that details of fines were not issued for months.

The parking company and Douglas Harris, a director, appeared at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court yesterday.

Harris from Radley, Hertfordshire admitted 13 offences and OPC, based at Elstree, pleaded guilty to 23.

Harris admitted taking more that the required 28 days to request details of the owners of vehicles from the DVLA. He also pleaded guilty to displaying 15 misleading signs at the site and sending letters from a debt recovery firm called Windsor-Smythe and Partners without revealing it was the same company as OPC.

The admissions were all made on the basis of neglect rather than connivance.

OPC admitted similar offences and further charges in which details of the "additional vehicle activity" of drivers were ignored.

Harris maintained as he left court: "I have done nothing wrong. If we had fought this case it could have put the company into administration." Sentencing will be on March 30.

The retail park is now considering other firms to take over OPC's role.

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