Ilkeston shopper presses MP over parking laws after camera error fine

Dawn Wallbanks who has successfully fought off a parking fine incured at Ilkeston's Tesco.
Dawn Wallbanks who has successfully fought off a parking fine incured at Ilkeston's Tesco.

An Ilkeston motorist has asked MP Maggie Throup to press for stricter regulation of parking companies, after she was mistakenly penalised on a trip to the supermarket.

Dawn Wallbanks was hit with a fine after cameras operating at Tesco Extra, on Chalons Way, clocked her entering the car park at 8.46am and leaving again at 5.15pm.

However, she successfully appealed against it after providing that her job with a local estate agents meant she had a diary full of appointments elsewhere during the day.

Dawn said: “Tesco have overturned the fine, but that’s not the point. I didn’t park there all day. I wasn’t there and the cameras should have seen me leaving in the morning and arriving again in the afternoon.

“Perhaps the equipment is faulty, but what concerns me is why no one is investigating this? If it has happened to me, it must have happened to lots of people who have just panicked and paid it.”

She added: “The notice arrived in January, but the so-called offence happened on November 21 last year.

“I couldn’t remember that particular day, but luckily I went back through my diary and found I had evidence.”

During her own appeal, Dawn became concerned by the way the case was handled, and the lack of explanation provided by Highview Parking, which manages the car park on behalf of Tesco.

In correspondence with Dawn, a Highview representative said: “We use automatic number plate recognition cameras to verify vehicles entering and exiting the store. On this occasion it appears that the data captured was incorrect.

“Without receiving any possible alert to any defect in the data, we are unable to exempt the camera and we are always able and willing to investigate customer’s appeals, if there is a suggestion of error. We apologise for being incorrect on this occasion.”

Unsatisfied, Dawn referred the case to the British Parking Association (BPA), the sector’s professional standards body.

However, the BPA has declined to intervene after reviewing the incident.

A BPA spokesman said: “Highview are a BPA member and adhere to our code of practice for parking on private land. If a motorist believes they have been issued a ticket unfairly they should appeal direct to the operator by following their appeals process.”

They added: “Should the appeal be rejected then the motorist can appeal to POPLA if the operator is BPA member.

“Sanctions are only issued to an operator where there has been a breach of our Code of Practice and only following an investigation.”

A spokesman for Maggie Throup said: “I can confirm that we have received correspondence from Ms Wallbanks.

“Whilst I am unable to comment on the specifics of this case, Maggie has written to both the chief executives of Highview Parking Ltd and Tesco Plc on Ms Wallbanks’ behalf to request that the alleged offence is reviewed in full, taking into account the additional information Ms Wallbanks has provided.”

A Tesco spokesperson said the incident was an “extremely rare” case of a mistake in the technology, and that checks have been carried out to ensure it was not a systemic fault.

They added: “We’re sorry for any distress this caused. We have reviewed the system to ensure it is not a common occurrence and can reassure customers at Ilkeston that they won’t receive a charge for visiting us.

“If this happens, there is the full detail of how to contest a parking charge written on the charge notice that arrives through your letterbox.”