The Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA) has temporarily stopped dealing with a hospital parking firm whilst it investigates claims that fines the company issued were unfair.
The complaints came from the Halton Citizens Advice Bureau, which said that a lack of proper signs at Warrington and Halton hospitals meant that thousands of parking fines should be reimbursed. The tickets were given to those attending the hospitals in the borough throughout March and May. However, a spokesperson for the hospital trust said that he believed there were no issues with the signage.
In the three months from March, a private contractor named Highview Parking issued over 4,200 parking notices at car parks across the two hospitals. This information was revealed to the public as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request. Around 1000 of the fines were refunded following an appeal, but it’s estimated that the fines could have added up to more than £300,000. According to the British Parking Association’s code of practice, all signs must be ‘conspicuous’ and ‘legible’. A report from the Citizens Advice Bureau said that it visited the entrances to both hospitals and found no signs which complied with the guidelines.
The DVLA said that Highview Parking has been temporarily suspended for all of the cases at Halton Hospital whilst the investigation into the fines is taking place. They said that the suspension did not apply to Warrington Hospital. Meanwhile, the people who have been hit with fines have been speaking of their plight to the media. One 88 year old lady said she had missed her cardiology appointment at Warrington Hospital after being hit with a fine whilst visiting an ill relative the month before. The woman said that she was visiting her ill son, when she received a letter three weeks later stating that there was ‘no evidence’ that payment had been made. She said that she got in touch with the hospital and the fine was eventually cancelled, but the ordeal had put her off attending her cardiology appointment as she did not want the same fine to occur.
The Chief Executive of Halton’s Citizens Advice Bureau said that the hospital’s car parking policies were not fair and that patients who have processed an appeal should have their fines ‘rescinded’. A representative of the Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust confirmed to the press that a request had been received from the DVLA to suspend any current suspected parking infringements made at Halton General Hospital.
They said that the suspension was as a result of the issues raised between themselves and the DVLA. Halton and Warrington Hospitals said that they had been actively looking at their parking policies and working with Halton Borough Council in order to dispel any concerns that have been raised. Lastly, the spokesperson said that they hoped the investigation would be finished soon, and re-emphasised that the suspension does not apply to the Warrington hospital site.
For more information about what you should do if you receive a parking fine, view our guide.