Shoppers at Derry’s busiest retail parks are fuming after receiving £90 fines for sloppy parking.
Angry shoppers are being forced to fork out more than they expected for their goods after parking their vehicles outside the white-lined parking bays at Crescent Link and Lisnagelvin Retail Parks.
The company doling out the parking tickets and the management companies responsible for the retail parks say they have taken action to ensure ample parking and eradicate parking by non-shoppers. A £90 fine to be paid in 28 days can be reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days and ‘parking charges’ apply where a vehicle is parked more than one third outside a marked parking bay, on double yellow lines, in disabled bays or for in excess of a specified length time (three hours at Lisnagelvin and four hours at Crescent Link).
However, those on the receiving end of the fines are outraged by the zero tolerance approach. In recent days the Journal has received several complaints about the practice from people who were shocked to be punished by the people running the centres they were spending money in.
Victor McMichael from Limavady parked at Lisnagelvin Retail Park for about 20 minutes. “I called in to Matalan for a shirt that cost £12 - in hindsight it was a very expensive shirt at £102 because of the £90 fine.” He added: “I admit that the car was over the white line but only very slightly - this is very heavy handed. It was a simple error to make and the car park was half empty. I phoned a solicitor who told me they’d received a lot of calls about it but that there was little point in fighting the fine in the courts because the driver is in the wrong.” But Victor has vowed not to return to the retail park, claiming the parking policy is “ridiculous and greedy”. “Pay and display I can accept but fining your customers for bad parking I can’t accept - that’s me finished shopping there.”
A Derry mother, who did not want to be named, said she too was angered after a similar incident at nearby Crescent Link Retail Park.
The young mother’s vehicle was next to a Jaguar car and she parked “a little over the line” to allow her lift to her baby from the car without her rear door striking the neighbouring vehicle. “Do they want to stop people shopping in Derry,” she fumed. “It’s a huge car park and was only one fifth full at the time - I was only there 15 minutes.”
One experienced retail manager told the ‘Journal’ that the practice of appointing parking control companies is becoming increasingly popular among management companies much to the “annoyance” of store managers. She said that retailers often have “little power over the decisions of the management companies” which view the parking controls as an “easy revenue generator”.
A spokesperson for UK Parking Control, the company appointed to oversee parking at both Waterside retail parks, said the firm has been operating at Crescent Link - which is managed by Lisney - since November last and Lisnagelvin - which is managed by Corbo Properties - since last month. “Our clients at both locations have brought us on board to ensure that they have ample parking for their customers who use the retail Park.” She added that some charges may well be binned after an appeals process. “All the charges are closely monitored, and any wardens that are found not adhering to these guidelines are given further training, and the tickets are cancelled.”
A spokesperson for Lisney said that in light of recent customer complaints it was working with UKPC to “investigate the situation” at Crescent Link. “Our priority is to provide an effective, efficient parking system which benefits shoppers using the facility.” Corbo Properties did not issue a comment on the matter. Retailers in both retail parks are expected to raise the complaints with the management companies in the coming weeks.