Drivers threaten to boycott parking lot over ticket chaos


Drivers threaten to boycott a parking lot in Wirral after ticket chaos saw blue badge holders fined.

Smart Parking took over the operation of the Cherry Tree Shopping Center car park in Liscard at the end of August this year.

Less than a month after the new system went into effect, people with blue badges – and therefore allowed free parking for up to three hours – began to receive fines demanding £ 100.

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Liscard Ward Councilor Daisy Kenny said residents were considering boycotting the parking lot due to the “distress” caused by the fines.

Council chief Janette Williamson, who also represents the Liscard neighborhood, said she wrote to the manager of the private mall after hearing complaints from residents.

A new parking regime is implemented at the shopping center

She described the decision to fine holders of blue badges who failed to realize they had to enter their details in parking lots as “heavy handed.”

Cllr Williamson said: “I understand the theory behind the new parking fee enforcement, but it seems like a blunt approach and causes distress to many residents.

“I have asked for assurances that they will take a more measured approach in the future and will uphold all appeals from drivers who have been fined severely or unreasonably.”

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Cllr Kenny added: “I have received many distress messages from residents who have received parking charges despite being blue badge holders.

“The new changes to the process have not been communicated effectively and people don’t realize that they need to enter their registration information even though they are blue badge holders.

“Many residents are talking about boycotting this parking lot in protest. I would like to avoid this because I don’t want it to impact local businesses.”

Councilor Wirral Janette Williamson
Councilor Wirral Janette Williamson

Signs in the parking lot read: “Blue badge holders must display a blue badge and up-to-date clock and can park FREE for up to 3 hours in any space except parent and child. . “

Cllr Williamson told ECHO that the centre’s director responded and gave assurances that blue badge holders who received PCNs in error will have their fines waived by Smart Parking’s appeal system. Blue badge holders will need to upload a copy of their badge as part of their appeal.

Cllr Williamson said the company is committed to providing an on-site attendant both to register blue badge holders on the system and to provide general assistance with any questions customers may have.

Smart Parking signage at the Cherry Tree Shopping Center in Liscard
Smart Parking signage at the Cherry Tree Shopping Center in Liscard

Cllr Kenny said: “We are very disappointed that distressed residents, who have been unfairly fined, are being reported to a generic unresponsive email address. I know this because I sent it several times by email without a response.

“To expect every resident, many of whom are disabled or elderly, to jump through hoops on the Smart Parking website to get an unwarranted fine overturned is deeply unfair.

“We want to assure residents that we will continue to contact these businesses until the issue is resolved.”

In a statement posted to the Cherry Tree Center Facebook page last week, the mall admitted there were issues for Blue Badge holders and apologized to customers who had been fined. .

The statement read: “Cherry Tree Mall is aware that some blue badge holders have received parking charge notices in error from our tenant, Smart Parking.

“We are currently working with Smart Parking to resolve this issue permanently, but in the meantime, if a blue badge holder receives a parking fee notice, they can have it canceled by following the appeal process on the back of the letter. .

“As part of the appeal process, you will need to upload a copy of your blue badge to the Smart Parking website and this file must be less than 3MB or the website will not accept it.

“We understand that these notices will have caused concern to our customers and we apologize for the inconvenience caused. If anyone needs further information, please send an email to [email protected]

A spokesperson for the Cherry Tree Center shared a statement with ECHO on behalf of a spokesperson for Smart Parking.

He said, “Smart Parking recently signed a lease to operate Cherry Tree Parking Lot and as such our goal is to manage the facility in a way that stops abuse of parking and ensures that genuine motorists and users alike. from the center can always find a place. to park.

“At the car park, we use a state-of-the-art ANPR parking management system, linked to state-of-the-art payment machines. This equipment allows us to accurately monitor the incoming and outgoing cars as well as the corresponding details entered into the payment machines.

“The Cherry Tree parking lot being private land, before anyone decides to park there, they must check the conditions of use which are clearly advertised throughout the site.

“Regarding the Blue Badges, these are not valid on private land, and motorists are informed when they are issued. However, at Cherry Tree Parking and as a sign of goodwill, Smart Parking recognizes and authorizes them. to be used by cardholders to secure free parking. To manage this we employ a full time attendant to monitor and record all blue badges used on site.

“Smart Parking is proud to be a member of the British Parking Association (BPA) and strictly follows its guidelines. In addition, we operate a BPA audited appeal process and recommend that any motorist who believes they have received a charge from wrongly contact us. directly. “

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