How many honest drivers were fined £100 in Portsmouth car park charges error?

Sir Vince Cable is the new leader of the Liberal Democrats

Sir Vince Cable is new Liberal Democrats leader

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AN unknown number of drivers were wrongly told to pay fines after buying tickets to park in Portsmouth.

But car park giant NCP is refusing to say how many motorists were incorrectly sent a £100 penalty or for how long the problem lasted.

Kate Watts wrongly received a �100 penalty notice after parking in the NCP Market Way car park in Portsmouth

Kate Watts wrongly received a �100 penalty notice after parking in the NCP Market Way car park in Portsmouth

It came to light after solicitor Kate Watts told of her anger at being issued with a penalty after using the NCP-owned car park in Market Way – despite paying the correct amount.

Kate, 33, left her car there for 48 minutes on November 27, went shopping and then paid the £2 fee before leaving.

So she was surprised three weeks later to receive a £100 parking charge notice for not paying.

Luckily Kate had kept the receipt and was able to send this to the firm and demand the charge be cancelled.

Kate, a mother-of-two, said: ‘It’s not acceptable for a big company like NCP.

‘They must make a small fortune in a year.

‘Something that’s so blatantly wrong should never have happened in the first place.’

The car park uses automatic number plate recognition cameras to monitor how long drivers stay and users pay when leaving.

Kate added: ‘It’s so important that other potential users of either that car park or other car parks that are introducing these ANPR cameras are just a little bit more cautious.

‘I just want to protect other people.’

After contacting the firm, she was told her appeal would take two months before it would be looked at.

But after persistently chasing the company she finally spoke to the car park manager and the charge was cancelled on Christmas Eve.

The firm told The News there was an error in the numbering of the machines and that led to data being mismatched.

A spokeswoman said it affected a ‘number of customer transactions’, but refused to say how many or over what period.

It said all notices issued in the affected period had been cancelled.

The spokeswoman added: ‘We do apologise for issuing a parking charge notice in error.’