A private parking firm fined a volunteer ambulance service driver £70 even though she was picking up a patient at an NHS hospital as part of her duties.
Julie Hyde, 62, from Allenby in West Cumbria, parked her Volkswagen Tiguan in a reserved bay at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle after checking with reception staff she was allowed to do so.
She helped the wheelchair user into her car and drove 80 miles back to the patient’s home in Cumbria, but received a letter from ParkingEye three days later demanding £40 within two weeks or the figure would be increased to the full amount.
Julie Hyde, 62, from Allenby in West Cumbria, was fined by ParkingEye after parking her Volkswagen Tiguan in a reserved bay while picking up a patient
Mrs Hyde, who began volunteering with the North West Ambulance Service for one day a week after retiring last year, said she was ‘appalled and disgusted’ at ParkingEye for sending the fine.
The former school finance officer told MailOnline: ”I meet the nicest people doing this job and so it feels like a kick in the teeth to then come across ones like this.
‘I was originally going to pay the £40 but then I became so angry. I’m a volunteer driver who was there legitimately – it’s just not on.’
ParkingEye – a private company that makes around £9million in annual profits – scans the registration numbers of cars arriving and leaving car parks and fines any drivers who have not entered their own number into a machine inside the surgery.
Have you been wrongly fined by ParkingEye or another private parking company?
Mrs Hyde had driven over from Cumbria to drop off another patient at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary when she went into Freeman Hospital, which employs the company to manage its parking.
After finding her way to the heart and lung department, Mrs Hyde parked in an ambulance parking bay right outside the front door, where there was a ParkingEye sign saying it was for authorised users only.
‘I find it quite stressful picking up patients from the Freeman because it’s so big… and it’s even more stressful trying to find the correct parking space,’ she said.
‘So I checked with the very helpful reception desk that I was in the correct place, and they took my registration number to enter into the ParkingEye system, and assured me it was ok.
‘I was shocked to receive the fine in the post a few days later. It’s an absolute racket! Especially at a hospital where most people are under pressure already with whatever medical issues they are dealing with.’
The reserved parking bay at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital that ambulance service volunteer Mrs Hyde was fined for stopping in
Mrs Hyde, a mother of two sons aged 35 and 32, insisted she did not blame the busy hospital reception staff for the fine but ParkingEye itself, who she said ‘need exposing’.
The fine was cancelled after MailOnline contacted the company, which claimed it was caused by an ‘administrative error’.
Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust said it was ‘very sorry’ for the incident, and had spoken to Mrs Hyde to say sorry.
ParkingEye is one of the biggest private parking company’s in Britain and operates 3,500 sites nationwide, including hospitals, supermarkets, hotels and service stations.
It uses automatic number plate technology to scan registration plates, and then pays the DVLA to assess the owner’s address, which is the only way it can properly enforce fines.
As with several other private parking firms, it has repeatedly been criticised for its aggressive tactics and been forced to climb down on fines upon appeal.
MailOnline has previously revealed how ParkingEye insisted on fining a company director £20 even though she was having an NHS scan at the time and patients were allowed to park for free.
ParkingEye cancelled the fine (pictured) after MailOnline contacted the company, which claimed it was caused by an ‘administrative error’
ParkingEye’s catalogue of controversy, from fining a dying cancer patient with a Blue Badge to billing a pensioner £70 for missing one digit of her registration number
ParkingEye has repeatedly caused controversy, with many drivers saying they have been unfairly ticketed.
Earlier this month, a terminally ill man was twice fined while visiting Lincoln County Hospital – which operates the system – despite cancer patients being entitled to free parking.
Edward Sutton, 79, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in November 2018, eventually had the fine overturned on appeal, Lincolnshire Live reported.
ParkingEye is one of the biggest private parking company’s in Britain and operates 3,500 sites nationwide
In May, 79-year-old Irene Smith was fined £70 for parking outside an Aldi where she was shopping despite inputting her details into the ParkingEye machine.
It later emerged she had missed one digit, according to a screenshot from the company.
But some drivers have succeeded in turning the tables against the parking giants.
In 2017, top lawyer Nicholas Bowen won a high-profile court victory against the firm after they fined him £85 for overstaying the two-hour time limit at a motorway service station.
A judge struck out the case and ordered the company to pay his costs of £1,550.
Holly Edwards, 34, received a £100 fine for parking outside the Harold Wood Polyclinic in Romford on June 9, but was confident about getting it overturned after she sent ParkingEye a GP appointment note showing she was there legitimately.
However, the makeup company director was stunned to receive another letter which thanked her for her ‘correspondence’ – but then said she would still have to pay the reduced fine ‘as a gesture of goodwill’.
In a previous incident, ParkingEye insisted on fining company director Holly Edwards £20 even though she was having an NHS scan at the time and patients could park for free
The ten major private parking companies operating in Britain revoked at least 33 per cent of the 14.7million charges they issued in the last four years, a report by consumer group Which? revealed.
The Government is currently drawing up a code of practice to regulate rogue companies following a boom in private parking sharks in recent years.
After MailOnline contacted ParkingEye about Mrs Hyde’s case, a spokesman said: ‘Following an administration error where the vehicle was not correctly registered onto our system, a PCN was issued.
‘Once this was discovered the charge was cancelled and a letter confirming this was sent to the motorist.
‘We encourage any motorist who has mitigating circumstances to use our BPA (British Parking Association) audited appeals process.’
Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust said: ‘We were very sorry to hear that Mrs Hyde received this parking ticket in error.
‘We have been in contact with her to apologise for the inconvenience and to confirm that the ticket has been reversed.
‘We are incredible grateful to all of the volunteers who give their own time to support patients using our hospitals.’
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