Fined over wrong car

Michelle Plant at the Park Tower car park. Picture by FRANK REID

Michelle Plant at the Park Tower car park. Picture by FRANK REID

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A MUM was left stunned when she was slapped with a £150 parking fine for someone else’s car.

Michelle Plant says she had never even been in the Park Tower car park, off Park Road, in Hartlepool, where parking enforcement firm LDK snapped a photograph of someone else’s car and sent her a letter saying she owed a £90 parking fine and further £60 non-payment fee.

The former Hartlepool Borough councillor said her car, a Vauxhall Meriva, and the vehicle pictured look similar and the registrations were just one letter different, and she was adamant she would fight the fine.

She said she knew exactly where she was on the day in question – preparing for an art and design graduate show at Christ Church art gallery.

Michelle, who asked the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Hartlepool Police for advice, claims it took LDK two weeks to send her photographic evidence and the picture showed a slightly different model, with a different registration number.

LDK has now overturned the June 9 notice and then a reminder letter sent on October 4, and apologised after admitting a screw on the other car’s registration plate made it look like the registration number matched Michelle’s.

Michelle, from Woodstock Way, Clavering, said: “I thought ‘I just know I haven’t done it’ – they had me convinced I was losing my marbles.

“It’s caused a lot of upset and stress.”

An LDK spokesman said: “It’s a common error where the number plate screws go into cars.

“As soon as it came to our attention we did apologise and overturn Mrs Plant’s notice.”

But to add to the fiasco, the same parking company hit Michelle, 50, with another fine earlier this year which she has enlisted the help of the British Parking Association (BPA), which manages the Approved Operator Scheme (AOS) for parking on private land, to fight.

She received a £90 fixed penalty notice when she parked outside the Hartlepool Mail office in Wesley Square back in February.

Michelle, who is mum to 18-year-old Robert, had parked the registered-disabled car she uses to ferry her disabled father around outside the Mail’s offices.

Michelle contacted the BPA and asked them to look into the Wesley Square ticket, after arguing that LDK’s signs – which say drivers of registered-disabled cars still have to pay to park – are too high for people to read and are obscured by chewing gum.

She said: “It didn’t say on the disabled sign in the bay ‘you must pay’ – if it had I wouldn’t have parked there.”

But the LDK spokesman said this separate ticket still stands and added: “The signs have to be at least 7ft-high and are easily readable and we have a massive board based at the machine. Mrs Plant is welcome to contact us directly.”

A BPA spokeswoman said: “The BPA advises that if motorists feel they have been treated unfairly due to a breach of the AOS’s Code of Practice they should contact the BPA in writing and we will look into all correspondence and act accordingly.”