10  July 2018






school photos







           All original writing

           2014, 2015, 2016, 2017,            2018        Ian McLauchlin



My recent need to park in the Marina car park brought to mind an earlier such occasion.

Talking to many people living on and around the Marina, there was a visceral fear about parking and double yellow lines. Evidently, before the new roads were adopted, a Parking Enforcement Company had been given the job of looking for 'unwanted' parking and dealing with offenders. You only had to wonder whether you could park there and a Parking Charge Notice was slapped on your forehead. Lots of money was demanded and your first born was kidnapped to make sure you paid it. So I was inviting trouble when I dared to park in the car park. The co-owner of my boat also needed a Parking Permit so, rather than ask for another, I photocopied mine and gave her the original . . .

It was August 2011, a date that'll forever be slapped on my forehead. I returned to my parked car and found a yellow Parking Charge Notice stuck to my windscreen. (Notice they don't call it a Parking Fine. That's the legal one that you have to pay. A parking Charge isn't a legal charge and you don't have to pay it, but they'd like you to think that you do.) Apparently I was parked in contravention of everything, and more.

I appealed. On what basis? That I was the proud occupier of a Marina Berth (and incidentally therefore impecunious). I presented an insurance certificate to show that my boat exists and is insured, and I was entitled to park in the Marina Car Park. I asked for confirmation in writing that the charge be withdrawn, and an apology would be nice too. Fat chance.

Premier Park, an oh-so legitimate Exeter outfit, replied. "This area has experienced a persistent issue of unauthorised parking. Your appeal has been denied. You must now pay £60 by 1sep11. Failure to pay this charge will result in the full amount of £100 being passed to our Collection Agency who will apply to the DVLA for Registered Keeper details and commence proceedings." ('Commence' is a much more important word than 'begin' don't you think?)

On 22aug11 I replied that I was a berth holder and therefore authorised to park.

That's the last time I contacted anybody about this nonsense but they continued to contact me. Fortunately I'm not intimidated easily and besides, if it came to it, they'd be laughed out of court.

So, on 9sep11 they sent me a 'Formal Demand. DO NOT IGNORE THIS NOTICE'. Failure to provide the Owner/Driver details or pay £100 within 28 days will result in an increase to £150 plus costs. Ignored.

29oct11, a letter from Debt Recovery Plus Ltd floated down from my letterbox, slipping first this way and then that, finally landing on the floor behind my front door. This announced itself as a Recovery, Investigation and Bailiff Services company acting on behalf of Premier Park. In fact it was from Premier Park, carefully using a new letterhead. "As payment has not been received, our client has instructed us (not asked or told, but instructed, thereby, they hope, adding a legal tinge to the sham) to recover the above monies from you as the driver . . . “ They don't know who the driver was, by the way. As if to prove that, they went on to say "The BPA code of practice states that the courts do not look favourably on motorists who try to withold information . . “. That's not a Code of Practice, it's a comment. The 'oh-so legitimate company' doesn't even know how to maintain their pretence.

On 7nov11, they got serious. What a laugh. Debt Recovery Plus Ltd issued a 'NOTICE OF INTENDED LITIGATION'. They were convinced that'd frighten the living daylights out of me. They were wrong. "To prevent potential (note that word) County Court proceedings, payment must be sent in full within 7 days. If a County Court Judgement is obtained the amount outstanding will increase to £252. Such judgment may (note that other word) seriously affect your ability to obtain credit in the future."

Macbeth knew what to say: "I am in blood Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o'er". Who am I to argue with that?

21nov11: Debt Recovery Plus Ltd were clearly feeling the heat. "REDUCED PAYMENT OFFER. Our client (ie. us, Premier Park) is prepared to accept a reduced payment of £120.”

That's nice, I'm not.

9feb12: Zenith Collections decided that it would be courteous to get in touch. They wanted to assure me that they hadn't forgotten about me, though Premier Park wished they had. "NOTICE OF DEBT RECOVERY ASSIGNMENT". Apparently Premier Park had found another batch of differently headed notepaper and, even though I really owed them £120 (they said; it was £150 - they're rubbish at accounting too), they were now offering a bargain basement discounted settlement offer of only £69.99, roll up roll up come and pay it.

Right. £150 has reduced to £69.99 in just 125 days. I reckon I only have to wait till the end of May for the 'debt' to reduce to nothing.

And I waited and it did. And now its 2018 and still no request for payment. I think they've given up on me, don't you?