Parking firm drop their appeal over fine

A parking firm that misled drivers at a Black Country shopping centre dropped an appeal against its punishment at the eleventh hour.

Parking firm drop their appeal over fine

A parking firm that misled drivers at a Black Country shopping centre dropped an appeal against its punishment at the eleventh hour.

Observices Parking Consultancy, which controls parking at St John's Retail Park in Wolverhampton, was fined more than £26,000 after admitting 23 charges brought by Trading Standards.

These related to complaints drivers were wrongly being fined for staying longer in the car park than they were allowed to, as well as complaints about fines not being issued soon enough.

Some fines were received months after the alleged offences.

OPC was due to appeal at Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday on grounds of disputed facts and that the sentence reflected intent rather than neglect.

But midway through the hearing the firm reconsidered its position after Judge Michael Dudley pointed out the latter argument failed because it was the prosecution's case the firm had, in fact, acted with intent.

The judge had also stressed how he had the power to increase as well as reduce sentences. Mr Patrick Maggs, representing OPC, said the case was being withdrawn. He said the British Parking Association had given the firm a clean bill of health.

A previous hearing at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court heard how shoppers are able to leave their vehicles on St John's Retail Park car park in Snow Hill for two hours for free, but are fined £100 if they stay longer. This bill can rise to £400 if the ticket is unsuccessfully challenged. But several drivers said they received fines despite never staying more than two hours. OPC was fined £26,750 and told to pay £5,000 costs.

The company's director Douglas Harris of New Road, Radley, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to 13 offences. He was fined £3,100 and ordered to pay £2,585 costs but he chose not to appeal against his sentence.

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