Roy Beggs MLA said “I have now received over 120 constituency enquiries from individuals who have received costly Smart Parking Bills or letters from debt collection agencies for having over staying in the 3hr car parking time limit at the Laharna Retail Park. I expect that this is a small fraction of the total number of those who have received bills. Whilst I have been able to assist with squashing the vast majority of these bills due to a loophole in NI Car parking legislation, this is adding considerable stress to unsuspecting drivers who may not notice the warning signs. This experience leaves them with a bad impression of Larne and more prominent information is needed.”
Most local people now know about the heavy bills they would face if they overstay the 3hr time limit in the privately owned Laharna Retail Park carpark. However, Roy Beggs said, “I continue to receive complaints about the carpark over stay Bills being issued, now usually from visitors to Larne. In the past 4 days, I have received 5 complaints regarding Smart Parking from visitors who had come to Larne to enjoy the Half Marathon. I expect that many more visitors will also have received them.”
The Ulster Unionist MLA went on to say “I have asked council if they can disclose the number of complaints that they may have received as result of the Event so that there can be a greater awareness of the scale of the problem. I would ask council to support me in highlighting the need for even higher profile signage at the entrance to any such private carpark where significant bills are being issued as a result of even a few minutes overstay. Secondly I have asked that council when organising events, that they should warn visitors, and particularly those attending events in the town centre of the strict time limits exercised by such carparks.”
Constituents seeking assistance to squash a Smart Parking bill for overstay in a private carpark should contact my office at a very early stage (email@example.com / 028 9336 2995).
UUP MLA Roy Beggs has also tabled to following questions at Stormont:
To ask the Minister for Infrastructure:
• To advise what legislation exists governing the size and prominence of warning signs advising of charges and time limits for drivers parking in privately owned carparks; and (ii) whether there are plans to introduce further regulation.
• To advise what legislations exists in NI enabling the department to monitor the number and scale of Parking Bills being issued to drivers parking in privately owned carparks.
• To advise what contact the Minister has had with the NI Consumer Council to ascertain the scale of complaints that are being received as a result of large bills being issued for even a few minutes overstay in a privately owned carpark
• To advise if the Department is aware of the nature of all sizeable carparks servicing town centres in each town/city has developed a maps or lists to assist visitors locate a suitable carpark and in particular to distinguish between (a) Free car parking. (B) Chargeable car parking and (C) time limited carparks and (D) privately owned, time limited carparks which unsuspecting visitor might receive significant bills for over staying the time period
Written Question to the minister for the Economy
• To advise what number of complaints have been received by the NI Consumer Council regarding the operation of privately owned carparks during each of the past 3 years?