A Good Samaritan who drove a cancer patient to Queen Alexandra hospital was left fuming after being targeted by an overzealous parking attendant and slapped with a £100 parking fine.
Wecock community volunteer Ann Waters took Gillian Patterson, her 67-year-old friend and neighbour, to the hospital for a consultation about ongoing treatment for bowel and breast cancer.
While they were waiting Ann realised the appointment could overrun, so she nipped back to their mini-van to buy additional parking time. But to her amazement she found she had already been issued with a parking notice despite the fact the ticket had not expired. Ann appealed to the hospital’s parking operator, but to her chagrin she learned the notice had been issued for a minor infringement.
The mini-van windscreen had a narrow black border around its edge, which had partly obscured a small part of the parking ticket. She asked for a copy of the photographic evidence, but the firm completely ignored her.
The demand for payment was cynically dressed up to look like a police penalty notice. Ann believed she’d no alternative but to pay up despite the fact that in reality it amounted to nothing more than a company invoice and they had no legal power to fine her.
Her appeal went to the final stage of the parking on private land appeal service, POPLA. They also turned it down because they are not obliged to consider mitigating circumstances.
Ann said what upset her most was that her vulnerable friend felt obligated to reimburse her.
She said: ‘Because the demand was so high, Gillian, who is a single lady insisted on giving us the money at a time of all that stress for her.’
‘They also make it impossible to do anything about it. You feel you can’t talk to anyone who’s real, you’re just sending something off to an invisible entity with no real way of appealing. Despite having a very good case they just weren’t interested.’
Streetwise has received a number of similar complaints from readers about being targeted at the NHS hospital by heavy handed parking wardens. They claim tickets are issued unfairly without any legal authority.
Private car parking operators can make their own labyrinth of rules about parking on private land, but the statutory POPLA service only has to take into account whether their members have failed to adhere to them.
But when approached by Streetwise, a spokesperson for the trust that runs QAH confirmed they have internal procedures in place to avoid or appeal parking penalties if appointments overran. QA hospital parking is managed on behalf of the trust by Carillion, a construction and facilities company. We contacted them about Ann’s complaint and were told that as the appeals system had been exhausted there was nothing they could do.
Ann was upset that parking firms had licence to penalise motorists with extortionate parking fees for insignificant breaches of their own rules and could ignore extenuating circumstances. She said: ‘The fact is that the whole ethos of a hospital is to improve life for people. It doesn’t mean you don’t have parking charges and fines if people park illegally, but operators should be required to act with integrity, compassion, and empathy.’