Axing of zealous ticket wardens at Derry car park is victory for people power
Drivers fined for displaying their disabled badges upside down and parking on lines
A victory for ‘people power’ is being claimed after a parking company was dumped from running a site at a Londonderry retail park.
A deluge of complaints from disgruntled customers who fell foul of zealous ticket wardens at the Crescent retail park led to the operators terminating their contract with parking firm UKPC.
The managers of the Waterside centre were being inundated with complaints from customers on a daily basis.
People complained they had been issued with £90 fines for trivial offences like parking on the white lines or for having a disabled badge upside down.
The termination of the contract has been hailed as a triumph for ‘people power’ from elected representatives who had also been swamped with complaints.
Crescent operators Linsey appointed UKPC last November, but this week the company issued a statement confirming that as of the end of this month the parking firm would no longer be responsible for the management of the Crescent Link car park.
A spokesman for Linsey said a noticeable increase in the number of people using the car park as a ‘park and ride’ facility over the past two years forced them to introduce the patrols this year.
He said: “Over the last two years the Crescent Link site has been prone to the misuse of car parking facilities which has been to the detriment of shoppers.
“This includes a large number of non-shoppers who regularly use it as a free ‘park and ride’ facility, violating the four-hour parking facility and taking up spaces designed for customers of Crescent Link.
“We also have seen an increase in the misuse of spaces designated for blue badge holders and parents with babies.
“To counteract this issue and to ensure the best service delivery to customers, we appointed car park management company UKPC to manage and monitor the entire parking facility at Crescent Link.
“This system worked effectively. However, over the last few months we have received a number of complaints relating to UKPC’s operation of the car park and following a thorough review we have decided to terminate the contract with the company.”
The move has been hailed as a great victory for common sense by local politicians.
Waterside SDLP councillor Martin Reilly has called for the managing agent at nearby Lisnagelvin Retail Park, where UKPC also operates, to follow suit and terminate its contract with the unpopular firm.
Councillor Reilly said: “This goes to show the power that consumer pressure can have — and I am glad that Linsey has seen sense and have responded to the concerns of local shoppers.
“The office of Foyle MP Mark Durkan was contacted by a number of constituents who were rightly annoyed and frustrated that they were spending money — helping our local economy — only to find that when they returned to their vehicles they were fined or ticketed for doing so.
“This was a clear example that UKPC were not operating with common sense or flexibility at all.
“Indeed, I believe it was this case that ultimately forced the managing agent Linsey into a review and subsequent termination of its contract with UKPC.
“It is also important to note that this decision relates only to the Crescent Link retail park.
“Car parking at the Lisnagelvin complex is still managed by UKPC and any motorist issued with a fine there should continue to seek advice before making payment.”
The call for Corbo — managers of the Lisnagelvin Retail Park — to also discontinue with UKPC, after agreeing a contract in April this year, was echoed by DUP councillor Gary Middleton.
He said: “No-one will advocate the misuse of car parking facilities, but for the most part the people hit with these tickets got them for ridiculous reasons such as being on the white line, which is not why UKPC were introduced.
“Common sense prevailed at Crescent Link and I commend Linsey for their action, but we are still getting complaints about people who parked at Lisnagelvin Retail Park to shop at Matalan or TK Maxx who are getting tickets from UKPC so I would urge the managers of this retail park to follow Lisney's example and find an alternative to UKPC,” the DUP councillor said.
UKPC and Corbo were both contacted for a response. However, no-one from either company was available for comment.
‘The charges will drive customers from shops’
By Donna Deeney
Some shoppers at retail parks in the Waterside in Londonderry have been getting more than they bargained for.
Many people have been furious at returning to their cars only to discover they had been issued with a stiff £90 ticket because of minor infringements like sloppy parking.
Crescent Link and Lisnagelvin retail parks both employed the services of car park management firm UKPC.
Now after an avalanche of complaints from aggrieved customers, Crescent Link has decided it will no longer use the company.
UKPC began operating at Crescent Link last November and at Lisnagelvin in April this year to address the problem of people using the car parks for longer than the permitted time.
Parking in disabled and parent and child spaces was also a problem, but soon it became clear that in many cases tickets had been issued to drivers who were simply over the white lines.
As shoppers arrived to spend their hard earned cash at Lisnagelvin yesterday Anne Laird (above left), from Newbuildings, was not among the sloppy parkers. She explained why: “I am well aware of the fines because my husband got one at Crescent Link earlier this year and I can tell you he was not a bit impressed and hasn't gone to Crescent Link since.
“He was over the white line but he had just popped into Curry's for a look around so he wasn't even all that long.
“We live locally and are here all the time so I am delighted that Crescent Link have stopped using this company, but the same needs to happen here at Lisnagelvin. I work at the hospital and so many people have had tickets, it’s ridiculous.”
Thomas Mullan was in Derry for the day with his wife and had come to Lisnagelvin unaware that his visit could have cost him an unexpected £90. He said: “I see the signs now that they have been pointed out, but I didn't notice them myself.
“This is crazy. People have to watch every penny and be careful about spending money and the thought that going over the line could get them a ticket could make them decide to go somewhere else.
“I would say enough £90 fines and you will see the shutters having to come down on these shops.
“It is a good job I am an excellent parker.”