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Drivers Given Tickets - Despite Paying To Park

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Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 7:02am 16th October 2014

Pirate FM has learnt traffic wardens in Cornwall are slapping drivers with tickets, even though they have paid for parking.

It is because they have done it over the phone or online.

The council is admitting sometimes that information does not come through to handheld computers quickly enough because the mobile signal is patchy.

Sarah was hit by a fine, twenty minutes after paying to park, as she played on Polzeath with her two toddlers on the first day of their family holiday.

Despite having a text confirmation the traffic warden refused to tear up the ticket. She said: "It was a little bit irritating - I could feel the anger rising, especially about the dismissive nature of the attendant who, I'm sure if he had taken the time to phone up and explain could have cancelled it on the spot.

"I had the text message on my phone - and that's all I sent to the council."

Sarah had the fine overturned when she appealed online but, to do that, she had to drive somewhere with mobile signal and log onto the website - only to find it would not work on her mobile. She eventually managed to get it written off.

"This should never have happened and I should never have had to have the extra hassle which I didn't really want on my family holiday. There was no apology and no suggestion that there was going to be a revision of their systems - which is worrying that this could be an unnecessary inconvenience to other people as well."

Pirate FM asked the council how many times this has happened since the phone and app system was introduced. Officials have admitted they do not keep records and have no way of being able to tell.

We asked for an interview to ask about how the system is monitored and whether it can be fixed but our request was turned down.

Instead, in a statement, a spokesperson admitted they know it is a problem: "Unfortunately there have been examples of cases where a motorist has paid for parking but the notification has not been received by the Civil Enforcement Officer who has then issued a Penalty Charge Notice. 

"This could occur if the wrong vehicle registration number or an incorrect location code has been entered but as the system is dependent on technology, there can be instances where unreliable mobile phone coverage or spikes in data usage during the height of the tourist season means that the CEO does not receive the notification.  
 
"Anyone who feels that they have been incorrectly issued with a Penalty Charge Notice should appeal and if a valid session is subsequently shown to be in place then the PCN would be cancelled."

But the Taxpayers Alliance says that is not good enough - and drivers who have paid to park should not be given a ticket in the first place. Spokesperson Andy Silvester said: "Cornwall residents have paid their taxes and are entitled to expect their council to deliver a service that is as user friendly as possible. It's not fair on hard pressed tax payers to be given a system that is not fit for purpose.

"The amount of money the council will have to spend with people handling that appeals process will only increase the cost to taxpayers who will pay through higher taxes anyway."

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