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Driver ready to pay £1,500 to fight £100 parking fine - 'It's just so wrong'

Lawrence Carnie. (SWNS)
Lawrence Carnie. (SWNS)

A driver has said he is prepared to pay £1,500 in legal fees to fight a £100 parking fine he said he was given for a half-hour stay in a retail park.

Lawrence Carnie received a charge for parking for 23 hours when he claims he was only there for about 30 minutes.

Carnie said he visited Tower Retail Park in Dartford, Kent, two days in a row for 30-minute stints but was punished due to problems with the CCTV.

The car park is free for three hours but he claimed he was never logged leaving the first time, so was hit with a fine for overstaying.

He appealed to both the parking enforcers, Group Nexus, and the independent adjudicator, Parking On Private Land Appeals (POPLA), but was rejected both times.

Now Carnie is carrying on his battle and has sought legal help to fight the fine he was handed in June last year.

He said: "If I bumped into you in the street and said 'give me £100' you wouldn't do it.

Tower Retail Park in Dartford. (SWNS)
Tower Retail Park in Dartford. (SWNS)

"That's what's happened here, they're asking for £100 for not being there. It's just so wrong what this company is doing."

The motorist is being advised by CCJ Removals Services, which helps people remove court judgments from their credit reports.

Paralegal Luke Memory specialises in challenging parking fines and is overseeing the case.

He said: "Cases like this do not usually make it to court as the legal costs are much higher than the fine, but Mr Carnie is an exception to the rule.

"Once a claim is made against Mr Carnie we would instruct a barrister to draft a defence statement, which costs £500, and this would lead to a court hearing at which Mr Carnie would instruct a barrister, and this would cost approximately £1,000.

"It's off-putting for the common man but Mr Carnie is happy to fight it in court."

He added: "They are very clever, these companies, as the costs to defend a case is much higher than the fine so people would usually just pay.

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"My thoughts are he has a good case. What they are alleging is he stayed too long in the car park, but their own evidence does not prove this and is littered with omissions and errors and clearly demonstrates that their records are inaccurate and unreliable."

Carnie added: "I am doing this purely because the data they provided was so bad."

Carnie plans to request all his costs be paid for by Group Nexus if he wins his case.

After appealing the penalty through the independent adjudicator POPLA, Group Nexus released a 356-page document showing all activity across that 24-hour period at the car park.

Carnie used his knowledge of analytics and placed all the logs into a spreadsheet. From there he said he deduced Group Nexus' data appeared to be missing a number of entries.

According to the document, Carnie was spotted entering the car park at 3.20pm on 10 June. He was then seen leaving at 1.30pm the next day with no other data entries for his car.

Carnie made the British Parking Association aware of these and other data issues but it denied any problems.

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Despite this, its website acknowledges this problem, stating: “Repeat users of a car park inside a 24-hour period sometimes find that their first entry is paired with their last exit, resulting in an ‘overstay’.”

Group Nexus previously said of the case: "The PCN was upheld on the grounds that the motorist overstayed the free time allocation.

"Issues with the cameras are extremely rare. When there is one, we virtually always find evidence of it on the system.

"In this case we investigated the claim and could find no evidence that this vehicle had visited the site twice."

The British Parking Association said an investigation was carried but that the ticket was issued correctly.

A spokesman said: "The motorist appealed the charge issued to their vehicle to POPLA which was rejected as they deemed the charge to have been issued correctly.

"The BPA carried out a thorough investigation of the motorist’s complaint about the management of the car park by one of its members and found there to be no breach of its code of practice."