'Unjust and unfair' - drivers' fury after being slapped with parking fines

Phil Doig from Salhouse, near Norwich, was handed a PCN after parking at Port of Wells car park, alongside Ian Ascough.

Phil Doig (pictured) from Salhouse, near Norwich, was handed a PCN after parking at Port of Wells car park, alongside Ian Ascough. - Credit: Google Maps/Phil Doig

Motorists have hit out at a firm which slapped them with triple-figure parking fines in a coastal town - with one vowing never to visit again. 

Phil Doig and Ian Ascough were handed separate parking charge notices (PCN) after visiting Wells in January.

They had both chosen to park their vehicles at the Port of Wells car park, managed by Civil Enforcement Ltd, but discovered the payment machine was not accepting debit cards. 

Mr Ascough said his wife had initially attempted to source some change, but the couple eventually decided to park elsewhere. 

Having obtained cash of his own, Mr Doig paid for parking before leaving - but not within the necessary 15-minute period stated in the car park's terms and conditions. 

While a spokesman for Civil Enforcement confirmed Mr Doig's fine was issued due to a breach of the T's and C's - which are displayed in its car parks - the company has since cancelled the PCN. 

The firm did not to respond to a request for comment in relation to Mr Ascough's fine. 

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Mr Ascough, who is originally from Canada, had travelled 120 miles from Hertfordshire to visit Norfolk with his wife and dogs on January 2. 

Ian Ascough travelled 120 miles to visit Wells on January 2.

Ian Ascough travelled 120 miles to visit Wells on January 2. - Credit: Ian Ascough

He claims to have tried four bank cards - on two separate ticket machines - to pay for the parking, while his wife queued in a shop to get change.

But they eventually cut their losses, returned to the car and drove on towards Wells beach. 

Mr Ascough added that his car was in the car park for 17 minutes and 45 seconds before departing. He has since disputed the PCN, but was unsuccessful.

“During the appeal process, I appealed for some common sense, some humanity and some understanding," he said.

“This was the first time I went to Wells, and it will probably be the last.

Ian Ascough said he is unlikely to return to Wells following the incident.

Ian Ascough said he is unlikely to return to Wells following the incident. - Credit: Ian Ascough

“I feel sorry for the local businesses as I am not going back there because of this car park management.”

Mr Ascough is determined to continue challenging the penalty for as long as it takes, claiming that it is "not justified, not fair, and not English."

He added: "I moved to England because of decency and fair play, and this does not feel like that.” 

In February, the government announced plans to crack down on private parking firms to protect drivers from extortionate charges, introducing a new code of practice. 

Until then, most PCNs were £60 but rose to £100 if not paid within a certain time period, but that has now been reduced to either £70 or £50 depending on the seriousness. 

Companies which breach the code could be barred from collecting fines from motorists. 

Mr Doig, from Salhouse, near Norwich, also attempted to use multiple cards to try and pay for parking in Wells, but to no avail. 

Phil Doig from Salhouse, near Norwich, was handed a PCN after parking at Port of Wells car park.

Phil Doig from Salhouse, near Norwich, was handed a PCN after parking at Port of Wells car park. - Credit: Phil Doig

Despite being successful in his appeal, he believes Civil Enforcement’s methods are unfair. 

He said: “I just thought it was a shoddy way to treat people with the wording on the invoice like ‘we have the evidence, you are guilty’. Any poor soul is going to be £60 or £100 down. 

 “They just seemed so intimidating for such a lovely place, and it's a shocking way to treat people.” 

On Mr Doig’s case, the spokesman for Civil Enforcement said: “The parking charge notice was issued because there was a breach of the terms and conditions of parking, which are clearly set out on signs within the car park.

“The driver appealed and the PCN was cancelled as a gesture of goodwill.

The Port of Wells car parks, by Wells Harbour.

The Port of Wells car parks, by Wells Harbour. - Credit: Google Maps

“The driver complained they did not have cash on them to pay and couldn’t make payment within 15 minutes. An alternative ‘phone and pay’ system is available to make payment remotely, but the driver did not attempt to use this method.

Moreover, Mr Doig questioned why the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) was handing out drivers' personal details - believing it to be a breach of date protection rules. 

But a spokesman for the DVLA said: "We take our responsibility to protect people’s personal information seriously and have robust measures in place to make sure data is used correctly.

“All private parking companies requesting vehicle keeper information must be a member of an Accredited Trade Association and operate within a code of practice that treats the motorist fairly."