Holidaymaker feels 'mugged' after £100 parking charge for 14 minute overstay at West Country beach

David Lester, 70, feels like he was 'mugged'
David Lester, 70, has called those behind a private car parking firm cowboys -Credit:David Lester

A long-time visitor to Cornwall has hit out at private car park firms after receiving a £100 penalty for a minor parking infraction. David Lester, from Wantage in Oxfordshire, was dismayed to find a parking charge notice in his post following a trip to the West Country in April.

The 70-year-old inadvertently stayed beyond his allotted time at Harlyn Bay by a 14 minutes. "They mug everyone and get away with it like it's a tourism tax," he said, expressing sympathy for those who struggle with the standard parking fees, not to mention the additional burden of parking charge notices (PCNs).

Despite acknowledging his own oversight in exceeding the parking duration, which he admits was his mistake, Lester was less than impressed with the parking firm, particularly as he had also surpassed their 'grace period'. "I found it frustrating that a little hick parking company refuses to publish their CEO's email address and they are hiding," he said. "It's a rip-off and we've had a property in Cornwall for 15 years but have been coming for 45 years and it is just mugging."

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After penning a letter to Alliance Parking, the company responsible for the car park, his appeal was dismissed, leaving him to settle for a reduced fee of £60. He expressed his frustration at the lack of direct contact with the company's higher-ups, saying: "They get away with it and it's like a tourism tax. I often feel quite sorry for people when they go on holiday and have to pay £15 a day to park but this.", reports Cornwall Live.

He has since reluctantly paid the reduced £60 charge to avoid the cost escalating to either £100 or £170 if he pursued the matter further. "Someone has to raise this because all these people are coming down with their hard-earned cash and then they get ripped off," he added.

"I don't think it's right. I don't think it's fair and I don't think the government is interested in it or otherwise they would do something about it."

Alliance Parking responded to his challenge by stating: "We are in receipt of your challenge in relation to the above Parking Charge. Appeals must be handled fairly and consistently, therefore, for us to cancel any Parking Charge; we must find that the Notice was issued in error."

The company cited the signage at the location, which outlines 'The Contract', indicating that drivers agree to pay £100 if the payment for their vehicle's stay is not made in full.

"Had the driver felt that the terms of the contract were unacceptable, they had the option to seek alternative parking. By remaining, the driver is deemed in law to be bound by the terms of 'The Contract'."

"Our evidence confirms that the vehicle overstayed the period paid for, and the Grace Period was exceeded; therefore, the Parking Charge was issued correctly."