Bangor Mail - - News - Amelia Shaw

ACHAPLAIN who used a car park while de­liv­er­ing tents to the home­less ac­ci­den­tally typed the wrong regis­tra­tion num­ber into the park­ing ma­chine – and now faces a fine 160 times greater than the cost of his ticket.

Canon Dr Ran­dolph El­lis, Ban­gor Cathe­dral’s high street chap­lain, put his own car regis­tra­tion num­ber into the ma­chine in­stead of his wife’s at the Me­nai Cen­tre car park in Ban­gor.

The 75-year-old paid £1 to park for ap­prox­i­mately half an hour, but was then sent a de­mand for £100.

Canon El­lis, from Penis­ar­waun, was us­ing his wife’s car to de­liver pop-up tents for the home­less and rough sleep­ers in Jan­uary.

He ap­pealed the ini­tial de­mand but has re­ceived an­other let­ter from Ex­cel Park­ing Ser­vices, the Sh­effield-based firm that runs the car park, telling him his case has been passed on to a debt col­lec­tion agency.

A fur­ther £60 has been added to the fine for pass­ing the case on and he has been threat­ened with a court or­der if he did not pay the full amount by yes­ter­day, Tues­day. Canon El­lis said: “What is par­tic­u­larly galling about all this is that I paid £1 for my ticket and did not stay be­yond the al­lo­cated time.

“The com­pany al­ready have their money, but they seem to want an­other rea­son to make even more money. It seems en­tirely un­rea­son­able to me that any­one com­ing into Ban­gor might end up be­ing sent a bill – as I did – 160 times greater than the ac­tual cost of their £1 car park ticket. What is also dis­tress­ing is the in­tim­i­dat­ing ef­fect that the com­pany’s cor­re­spon­dence is hav­ing on me. It all seems com­pletely out of pro­por­tion. At a time when the lo­cal au­thor­ity is putting in nearly £2m to rein­vig­o­rate the Ban­gor re­tail and hous­ing econ­omy, such fines might dis­cour­age peo­ple from en­joy­ing its cafe and res­tau­rant cul­ture and turn them away from the many in­de­pen­dent high street busi­nesses.”

An Ex­cel Park­ing Ser­vices spokesper­son said the pri­vate pay and display (P&D) car park was mon­i­tored by au­to­matic num­ber plate recog­ni­tion cam­eras and the con­di­tions for us­ing it re­quired mo­torists to in­put their full and ac­cu­rate regis­tra­tion num­ber when buy­ing a ticket.

This was cov­ered on sig­nage next to the ma­chines and in the step by step pur­chase in­struc­tions on them.

They added: “Whilst Dr El­lis en­tered a regis­tra­tion num­ber for a to­tally dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cle, he did not pro­vide any sup­port­ing ev­i­dence with his ap­peal to sub­stan­ti­ate hap­pened.

“Although we de­clined Dr El­lis’ ap­peal, he was given the op­tion to have his case as­sessed, for free, by the In­de­pen­dent Ap­peals Ser­vice (the IAS).

“In the ab­sence of any such ap­peal be­ing made, or set­tle­ment of the PCN, mat­ters have nat­u­rally pro­gressed to the debt re­cov­ery stage and the amount of the park­ing charge has in­creased in line with due warn­ing given on the no­tices we have is­sued. We are obliged to alert mo­torists that court ac­tion may be taken and we do not con­sider what had our cor­re­spon­dence to be threat­en­ing.

“In a world where tech­nol­ogy is con­stantly evolv­ing, there is an in­creas­ing reliance on the ac­cu­rate in­put of data by cus­tomers, such as PIN num­bers, and we do not con­sider it an un­rea­son­able term and con­di­tion to spec­ify that an ac­cu­rate ve­hi­cle regis­tra­tion num­ber must be in­put. Of course, we can un­der­stand that mis­takes can hap­pen and we do pro­vide a helpline num­ber on our sig­nage in or­der for mo­torists to re­port any is­sues and po­ten­tially avoid the is­sue of a Park­ing Charge No­tice.”

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