B&Q 'sorry' as shopper wrongly fined £110

A DIY enthusiast was hit with a £110 parking fine after bosses at B&Q claimed he had spent eight hours in their car park – when he had in fact visited twice in one day.

Retired banker David Hamilton received the penalty notice, issued by a private parking contractor, which claimed that he had overstayed by six hours in the Hermiston Gait store's car park.

But the 60-year-old has receipts to prove he visited the store twice on the day in question last month – once in the morning and once in the evening.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The car park is monitored by Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, which log cars that have been parked for more than two hours. The crackdown was brought in to deal with the problem of people parking in the retail park and then using Edinburgh Park train station or the adjacent business park.

B&Q today apologised to Colinton-based Mr Hamilton and said they would cancel his ticket. But he said today he still wanted to raise awareness of the issue because other drivers might have received the parking charge notice.

He said: "I couldn't believe it when the parking charge notice letter came through the door.

"I had been to B&Q in the morning but needed to pop back and get something else later in the day.

"I parked by the trade entrance both times, but I don't think it was in the same space.

"They are clearly not checking their cameras frequently enough, and assumed I had been in the car park all day. It is definitely a grey area and the letter looks very formal and threatening. This should serve as a warning to others using this car park."

A Preston-based firm called Parking Eye issued Mr Hamilton with his parking notice and today said it was carrying out an investigation into his claims. A spokeswoman for B&Q said: "This car parking system was implemented by the landlord of the retail park as a preventative measure to deter people from leaving their cars in the car park to go on to other destinations such as the city centre.

"As Mr Hamilton was shopping at B&Q when the penalty notice was issued, we've contacted the car park management company on his behalf regarding his complaint.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"There are systems in place to ensure that repeat visits to the car park do not trigger a penalty notice being issued, but it appears on this occasion that there may have been an error.

"We'll be issuing Mr Hamilton a penalty notice cancellation with immediate effect, and apologise for the inconvenience."

The spokeswoman added: "In addition to this, should a customer wish to shop with us for more than the two hours allowed, they should contact a member of staff whilst in store and we'll ensure they do not receive an inappropriate fine."


WITH increasing pressures on parking in the Capital, a number of retailers are turning to private firms to enforce parking rules on their land.

Most contractors have access to DVLA databases so they can identify drivers who have overstayed and send a parking charge notice through the post.

Letters will often look similar to the notices issued by the city council but they are not the same thing.

In effect they are a notice that the car park owner intends to take you to court for a civil action and is giving you the chance to settle out of court.

However, the majority of letters which drivers contest never reach the courts because it is not cost-effective for car park owners to do this.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Whether the notices issued by parking contractors are legally enforceable is something of a "grey area" but parking campaigner Barrie Segal is adamant they are not.

He said: "There are a number of issues – from the letters looking like genuine parking tickets to the signage in these private car parks – which make this a grey area."

• www.adviceguide.org.uk