Pub-goers' shock at 'unjust' parking fines

January 28 2019
Pub-goers' shock at 'unjust' parking fines

Customers, who have faced hefty fines after using a local J D Wetherspoon’s car parking facility, say they have been unfairly targeted, and more must be done to advise drivers of the potential penalties.

The car park, in Harbour Road, is managed by national firm Parking Eye and enforces a two-hour limit for drivers using the onsite retailers, which include a Lidl supermarket and Home Bargains.

However, given the nature of public houses, customers of The Posset Cup Wetherspoon pub can park beyond the two hours by registering their number plate at the bar. The Portisheadvoice understands that this has been in place now for over a year.

But, Portisheadvoice has spoken with a number of customers – the majority of whom were using the pub in the evening – who say that were unaware of the restrictions or that they could extend their stay – and have faced fines of at least £60 as a result.

They are now calling on the pub chain to take more responsibility of making driving customers aware that they can extend their stay.

Local resident and co-owner of a local skate shop, Stuart Walsh, who has received two fines from Parking Eye when using Wetherspoon but has contested them and won, said that the system is “unjust” and “exploits people that do not want to fight authority”.

After putting a post on social media about the charges, he says he was “bombarded” with messages from people who have also received parking penalties at the same car park.

He said most of the people getting in contact were customers of Wetherspoon and were either unaware or forgot to enter their car registrations at the bar. 

In the post, Mr Walsh said: “One message I received was relating to a young lady who could barely afford to get her children anything for Christmas. Then she was hit with a fine that ruined it for her.

“Now, is the penalty for parking or for not being aware or remembering to enter your reg?”

Speaking to Portisheadvoice, he said: “I do not have a problem with managed carparks, but this one is just unreasonable.

“There’s no ticket machine or barrier, so you’ve got to be fully aware of what time you enter into the car park.

“The people who have got fined were just going out to enjoy themselves for a few hours – they weren’t going to work and leaving their cars for hours on end.

“They’re being extorted for something that just isn’t fair.”

Portisheadvoice spoke to the mother of a woman who received a £60 fine on Christmas eve.

According to the mother, who is a local resident but prefers to remain anonymous, staff input her daughter’s car registration details at the bar to extend the stay beyond two hours.

However, her daughter still received a fine two weeks later.

“We rang up Wetherspoon, but they said it was nothing to do with them and advised that we contacted Parking Eye, which we did – and now have to wait 28 days for a response.

“In the meantime, we’ve received another letter, saying that we now have to pay £100.

“This has caused my daughter, who is pregnant, a lot of stress.”

Another customer used the restaurant last summer and exceeded the two-hour limit by 12 minutes.

She told the Portisheadvoice: “I parked in the Home Bargains car park and because it was after 7pm, I thought the two-hour limit must not apply. If I thought it still applied, I wouldn’t have gone over the two hours.

“I wasn’t aware of any signs in the pub and the signs in the car park weren’t very clear and full of lots of jargon.

“I’m currently going through a separation and couldn’t deal with the additional stress, so I just paid the fine.

“I think it’s unacceptable and Wetherspoon should take some responsibility and perhaps offer a goodwill gesture to customers who have faced these fines.”

Portisheadvoice also spoke with a woman who received their fine between Christmas and New Year after having a meal out with friends – she says that she was penalised for being 15 minutes late to her car.

She said: “I never noticed any signs and I didn’t go to the bar because I ordered from the Wetherspoon app, so I was really rather shocked when I got the letter from Parking Eye.

“I very rarely go out – I’m a single parent, over 50. I certainly don’t feel inclined to go back there again.”

In a response to the Portisheadvoice, a spokesman for J D Wetherspoon said: "Customers at The Posset Cup have been made aware, for the past 12 months, that they are able to extend their car parking stay from two to five hours, whilst visiting the pub.

"Signage around the pub, including at the bar, above the coffee station and condiments table, as well as in the toilets, conveys this message.

"On occasion, staff have also kindly assisted customers, by supplying duplicate receipts, to help with appeals against subsequent fines."

A Parking Eye spokesperson said: “Customers can park for up to 2 hours, however if additional time is required, the signage located on site has further instructions on how to register.

“We also operate a British Parking Association (BPA) audited appeals process and urge motorists to appeal if they feel there are mitigating circumstances.”

When speaking directly to Portisheadvoice, the spokesperson said that if customers can prove that they were using The Posset Cup – for example, with a receipt – they are entitled to lodge an appeal.

The spokesperson said that each case will be treated individually.