Dad: ‘I’d rather go to jail than pay parking fine’

An irate resident says he would rather go to prison than pay a car parking fine for being 12 minutes late.

Thursday, 26th March 2015, 8:24 am
Parking Ticket: Dad would rather go to jail than pay up now

Craig Lawrenson, of Duck Street, Clitheroe, is being chased by bailiffs for £367 after returning late after his daughter’s swimming lesson.

The Government recently decided to give drivers 10 minutes’ grace before being fined if they do stay too long in council-owned parking spaces.

Back in 2012 Mr Lawrenson parked on Edisford Road car park, owned by Ribble Valley Borough Council, while his daughter had a swimming lesson. He paid 50p for an hour’s parking, but was late after his daughter was asked to stay after her 30-minute class. On his return, a parking attendant was issuing a £25 ticket.

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“At this time I noticed a foreign number plated car that was receiving no penalty ticket despite failing to show a payment. I asked the parking attendant why he was issuing no ticket and received a shrug of the shoulders,” he said.

Mr Lawrenson then wrote to Chipside Ltd who operate the parking fines on behalf of RVBC asking why he had to pay yet foreign cars didn’t. He also withheld his right to pay the original £25 fine until he had these details. After numerous letters with Chipside Ltd refusing the request for details and re-requesting the original fine, Mr Lawrenson in each letter continued to reserve his right to pay the original fine without late charges. Eventually a Chipside Ltd adjudicator advised Mr Lawrenson “the issue with foreign plated cars had nothing to do with me and I was late returning to my car, so owed the fine”.

Mr Lawrenson paid the original fine, but has since been chased for late payment.

“I have answered each letter explaining I wouldn’t be paying the fine and explaining the situation in full, and I ‘reserved my rights to pay the original fine without further charges’. I also explained I would be happy to attend any court date and would rather go to prison than pay the late fine,” he added.

Bailiffs have now visited Mr Lawrenson’s home with an enforcement notice requesting £367 or goods of that value to be removed on behalf of RVBC.

“This £367 added to the £25 already paid for the extra 12 minute’s parking plus the 50p paid at the meter at the time means the payment requested for 72 minutes parking while my daughter did her swimming lesson on a Saturday morning at 9am equates to £392.50. As stated I would rather do time than pay this.”

An RVBC spokesman said: “We have always operated a 10-minute grace period on our car parks and it is worth noting the Government now requires other councils to follow our lead. However, motorists using council-owned car parks are strongly advised to return to their vehicles within the time allotted on their ticket as we are unable to extend the grace period indefinitely and returning to the car promptly will ensure there is no risk of an enforcement notice being issued. We do not operate a policy of not issuing enforcement notices to foreign vehicles.”