back to article British car parks start reading number plates

UK car parks are now reading number plates to ensure everyone pays their due, with payments deducted from the account and unregistered parkers getting a ticket while everyone gets tracked. The system is called SwishPARK and already operational in eleven car parks, six in Welwyn Garden City, the rest scattered around England. …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They've been doing it in Chester for the last few years to stop people parking for free on the out of town shopping areas and walking or getting the bus from there to work. Suddenly it was easy to get a parking space outside Mothercare.

    The downside is it probably reduces footfall or impulse buying on the way home.

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Surely the downside is that the billing mechanism's primary source of identification is a yellow and black plastic sign that you could knock up in any printers in about ten minutes, and it's difficult to refute false claims even if you KNOW it wasn't you in that car?

      I think that the more weight that we put on number plates being read by technology (petrol stations, congestion charging, etc.), the more technology should be IN the number plate to stop it being faked. Because at the moment it's a bit of plastic read by optical cameras with no bells and whistles beyond a bit of OCR (i.e. you could fool it with a well printed bit of paper).

      And is it technically illegal (aside from the obvious obtaining-services-by-deception) to not have a valid number plate while INSIDE a private car park?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Lee Downling

        Simple - just start reading the RFID chip instead. Or mandate that all vehicles have government sanctioned trackers. Never let practical considerations getting in the way of a money-spinning, technocratic solution.

      2. Nigel 11
        Unhappy

        Not quite so easy

        It's not quite so easy to fake a plate with a paper print-out, given that it's a criminal offense to display a fake one and that policemen and traffic wardens are quite good at spotting fakes. You need a friend in the auto trade who will knock up a fake using the right hardware and no paperwork, or ... the big weak spot ...

        The crim steals the plates from some other poor sod's car. They're often held on with nothing more than screws or sticky pads. Provided it's the same colour, make and model of vehicle, you get the hassle and he gets off scot-free. The crims do this already, to escape speed cameras and freeloading on your car's insurance (now there's something easy to fake - an insurance certificate to con another driver with after a minor accident!) Expect number-plate theft to become even more popular.

        However, because of this it's quite easy to deal with a parking fine. You tell them that it wasn't you, and with a bit of luck you can also say where the car was at the time, many miles from that car park. If necessary you say "see you in court". If you have good character a court is likely to decide that there is quite enought doubt. Especially if you reported the theft of your plates to the police, and keep the crime reference number.

        1. tmTM

          Re: Not quite so easy

          It is so easy.

          Although you can't do it with a printer, you can pay a tenner to one of the many online places that will happily make and send you a new numberplate.

          1. Nigel 11
            Thumb Down

            Re: Not quite so easy

            Have they changed the rules? Last time I had to buy a numberplate, I had to show the vehicle registration document for my vehicle, and was told that this was a legal requirement. (This was at a high street car parts shop). Of course, it wouldn't be the first time an on-line trader was operating illegally.

            1. DaddyHoggy

              Re: Not quite so easy

              They're only operating illegally if they're selling you a number plate for use on the road - quite a few e-tailers will sell you "joke", or "novelty" number plates (for parties, birthday, behind the bar, etc.) with a little note - stating "This isn't a real number plate and shouldn't be used as such" - at that point they're in the clear, if you (or somebody with nefarious intent) then stick it on a car then - you're breaking the law, not the e-tailer.

              To be honest, much easier to have a strategically placed rusty screw or two, changing 9s to 8s, Gs to 6s, 1s to 7s is relatively straight forward and quite innocent looking and easier to go "oh my gosh, look at that," on the off chance you're ever stopped by an actually real and increasingly rare, real police officer (either traffic or on foot)

              (I had a friend with a number plate where a 9 looked like an 8 this way, to the point where his wife actually thought the number had an 8 in it...)

        2. PatientOne

          Re: Not quite so easy

          "Provided it's the same colour, make and model of vehicle, you get the hassle and he gets off scot-free."

          The criminals generally don't bother. They'll use any old plate (swap them with another car, or clone them) and put the plates on what ever car they're using/stealing. It's why the police are getting kit in their cars to scan plates and return the make/model of the car they're registered to, as well as road tax/insurance checks.

          The problem with a system like this is it makes the operators lazy. They won't bother checking to see if you did actually park, or who was driving, or if the car matches the plates: They'll get the VIN and your address and post the fine or the bill and it's up to you to prove you are innocent.

        3. Euripides Pants Silver badge

          Re: Not quite so easy

          Do what Elwood Blues did - Use a fake address for your driver's license. 1060 West Addison works well.

        4. leaway2

          Re: Not quite so easy

          I am sure that any half decent printer could reproduce a paper number plate. This only has to to be read by the camera and then removed once through the reader. It could be replaced to exit and removed again. The owners would have to check all vehicles in the car park to find the one not in the database.

      3. RICHTO Silver badge
        Mushroom

        You can buy 'show plates' on eBay - delivered in ~ next day!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Similar at Horfield sports center in Bristol ... free parking for 2 hours there but now they've contracted enforcement to a company which scans all cars entering an exiting and issues the relevant "fine"/"charge" to anyone overstaying.

      1. Number6

        Confuse the system

        I've often wondered whether it's possible with one of these places to drive in, park, cover number plates, drive out, remove cover from number plates, park somewhere else with plenty of people/CCTV to see your car, drive back to the first car park, cover number plates, enter, uncover number plates, drive out.

        The system at the car park would then decide you'd been there all day and presumably cough up a charge notice which you can then challenge with the evidence that your car was elsewhere for most of that time.

        It might also be interesting to not return and see if it gets confused by the lack of an exit record.

        For those with real lives, carry on as normal.

        1. electricmonk
          Devil

          Re: Confuse the system

          You think too small.

          Drive in, park, cover number, drive out, find arch enemy and commit horrible MURRRDERRR of your arch-enemy by running him/her down, return to car park, uncover number, drive out. "It can't have been my car, detective inspector, I was parked in town all afternoon..."

        2. Colin Brett
          Coat

          Re: Confuse the system

          "I've often wondered whether it's possible with one of these places to drive in, park, cover number plates, drive out, remove cover from number plates, park somewhere else with plenty of people/CCTV to see your car, drive back to the first car park, cover number plates, enter, uncover number plates, drive out."

          Covering number plates? That's like sooooo 1950s! Surely revolving number plates (valid in all countries) would be a better solution.

          Mine's the one with the Walther PPK in the pocket!

          Colin

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Confuse the system

          It is a legal requirement in the UK to have visible number plates on your car when on the public highway.

          As long as you uncover the number plate when you leave the private car park and before you go onto the public road you will not be committing an offence.

          1. Nigel 11

            Re: Confuse the system

            Are you absolutely certain you know where the public highway ends and the private car park begins? Also it's not against the law to have a private camera taking pictures of vehicles on a public highway.

        4. Jason 24
          Happy

          Re: Confuse the system

          A friend of mine tried to confuse the system in a Milton Keynes car park by reversing into the car park and then driving forwards out of it, hoping it would look like he'd exited twice

          They weren't impressed and sent him a fine!

        5. jason 7 Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Confuse the system

          You could of course just pay the two quid or so.

          Who actually goes into town or the big white goods stores/parks anymore?

          We don't even go to Supermarkets any more. Much easier to stay at home and order it in. You don't have to deal with 'plebs' then.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Big Brother

            Re: Confuse the system

            > Who actually goes into town or the big white goods stores/parks anymore?

            Unfortunately, that's exactly what they want.

            You're easier to control if you don't ever go out.

            Ideal situation, you're born, you sit down, consume media then you die. Much less troublesome than having people walking and driving round the place.

            1. jason 7 Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Confuse the system

              I don't think ordering a fridgefreezer on Amazon was quite what Orwell had in mind.

              Plus all the poundshops don't quite have the goods I want.

      2. ZillaOfManilla
        Big Brother

        Tesco in Keynsham (Bristol) also have these cameras. A friend had a letter through the post saying she had over parked, but because she was a tesco loyalty card holder, they wont fine her this time! I wonder if the amount of moneyh you spend in TEsco sets the automatic letter posting from here s a fine to hey next time leave on time? Also how many Tesco points do you think you can collect for the fine?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not just in Chester

      ASDA tried introducing pay-or-buy-our-stuff parking a few years back using barriers. That ended up with some woman getting killed by an erratic barrier (somewhere in Wales if memory serves me right). After the public outcry they have removed the barriers and replaced them with ANPR. That is definitely the case at the local retail park around here.

      Ditto for B&Q and a few other usual suspects. In fact, it will be difficult to find a retail park that does _NOT_ do ANPR nowdays.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not just in Chester

        >>> Ditto for B&Q and a few other usual suspects. In fact, it will be difficult to find a retail park that does _NOT_ do ANPR nowdays.

        None that I know of in Scotland!

      2. boltar Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Not just in Chester

        "some woman getting killed by an erratic barrier "

        Presumably she wasn't in a car at the time (unless the extra powerful barrier crushed the car which then exploded hollywood style), in which case why was she walking in the road underneath moving barriers? I sense a darwin award.

        1. Jock in a Frock
          FAIL

          Re: Not just in Chester

          It was a bloke, he was in a car, and the barrier was not an automatic one - it was a large metal one which had not been secured open. A strong wind caught it and blew it into his car, killing him.

          Asda were fined £225,000 plus costs for a H&S failure.

          http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_east/7200678.stm

          1. boltar Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Not just in Chester

            "A strong wind caught it and blew it into his car, killing him."

            Its sad , but those barriers are heavy and you'd need a hurricane force wind to move them fast so I suspect what probably happened was it was slowly drifting open when this driver probably going too fast and not paying attention drove into it.

    4. DaLo
      WTF?

      Auto billing?

      But was this auto billing in Chester? Obviously general ANPR to make sure you don't overstay is common everywhere.

      Crazily, they introduced it in a local B&Q. I went there and was going to shop there and at the Morrison's next door, however with the new ANPR and 1 hour limit that it said on the sign, I parked in Morrison's instead.

      However about an hour and half later I went back to B&Q and parked, went in an bought the stuff I was going to buy.

      I later get a parking charge notice as the sign also said "no return within 4 hours"!.

      So I had driven in, saw the sign driven out (total time less than 3 mins). Then later returned parked up for half an hour and shopped in B&Q and got hit with a charge. Luckily I had been on holiday for a couple of weeks so the charge had also been doubled for non-prompt payment. This forced me to look on the 'net and realise to ignore these invoices, which I duly did.

      However, no return within 4 hours! how many people must do DIY at the weekend, go and pick up some goods and then realise they forgot something, need more of something or bought the wrong type? They would drive back and get hit with a fine! Ridiculous.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We have a road in our area that is private that leads to a GP's surgery, it catches drivers all the time. If you stop in the road for more than 2 seconds, you get a £70 fine. No excuses, nothing is accepted, you pay or it's court. We all wrote to the local paper and the council to say it was killing local trade making the road a deathtrap. No surprise to learn that one of the councillors is on the board of the company that runs the tagging scheme that fines people, so no chance of them removing it..

      So upshot is that no one enters the road unless it's clear right to the end and then they race down it, right outside the GPs at over 25mph to make sure they cannot be caught! On that same road is a Post Office and the rear entrace to a supermarket so it's a lethal place to be in!

    6. Mips
      Childcatcher

      When is news No News?

      When it is reported by The Register

  2. sabba
    Paris Hilton

    Ooh, dogging will never be the same again

    <<see title>>

    1. Winkypop Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Ooh, dogging will never be the same again

      Oh I don't know, many car parks don't charge for staying less than 5 minutes....

  3. RICHTO Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Only councils and police can issue fines. What these are is a 'parking charge' that should be appealed (which costs the parking company money) and then if you loose, ignored. This still stands even after the recent change in the law.

    See http://forums.pepipoo.com/

    1. Annihilator
      Meh

      I did wonder this, seems a bit draconian that the system as it's described can assume agreement from a driver to pay just by driving onto a piece of land that may or may not be clearly identified as a paid car park. Are there even barriers involved here? I assume if I pass a barrier, I'm probably going to be paying something, but I also assume there will be a space for me.

      And don't get me started on the multitude of airports that are now charging a quid just to pick up or drop someone off..

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        elreg

        I got really peeved by that at BHam, until I realised that Long Stay 1 is free for up to an hour - has an excellent bus service to the terminal (or a 5 minute walk) and saves a whole lot of trouble seen at other airports.

      2. RICHTO Silver badge
        Mushroom

        The Law has recently changed. The owner is now liable in theory if they cant / dont name the driver. Here is the full outline current guidance.

        Legal Enforceability of Private Parking Tickets

        There is a great deal of doubt about the legal enforceability of private parking invoices that are issued to motorists. Unlike parking tickets issued by local authorities, which are backed by statute, the enforcement of private parking is essentially a matter of contract law. A private parking company needs to overcome many significant legal hurdles in order to be successful, which include:

        •Establishing that any claim is under the law of contract, rather than the tort of trespass (see case of Excel Parking Services v Alan Matthews, Wrexham County Court, May 2009 where the parking company lost on this ground);

        •Establishing that the parking company has sufficient interest in the land to bring a claim (see case of VCS v. HM Revenue & Customs, Upper Tax Tribunal, a binding decision at the level of the High Court) in which it was decided that unless the PPC has a proprietary interest in the land they are not able to offer contracts for parking;

        •Establishing that all of the elements of a contract (offer, acceptance, consideration) are present;

        •Except in England and Wales, establishing who the driver was on the relevant occasion, as any contract can only be enforced against the driver, who may or may not be the registered keeper of the vehicle;

        •Establishing the prominence and adequacy of any warning signage, and that the driver actually saw and understood the signage (Waltham Forest v Vine [CCRTF 98/1290/B2]);

        •Establishing that the amount claimed is not an unlawful “penalty”, including that there was no attempt to “frighten and intimidate” the driver (see well reported case of Excel Parking Services v Hetherington-Jakeman, Mansfield County Court, March 2008 where the parking company lost on this ground), and that charges must be a genuine pre-estimate of loss, or actual damages caused by trespass (see the Department of Transport's guidance on the Protection of Freedoms Act);

        •Establishing that any contract does not fail foul of the Unfair Contract Terms Act and associated regulations.

        Protection of Freedoms Act (England and Wales only)

        In England and Wales the Protection of Freedoms Act has introduced some changes that might affect your decision whether to simply ignore a PPC ticket. These changes apply only to parking companies that are also members of the BPA AOS scheme, and are principally:

        •The PPC may "invite" (not demand, nor require) the RK to provide the details of the driver at the time of the alleged transgression. If the RK doesn't do so, or their invitation is ignored, the PPC is entitled to pursue the RK for whatever charge they are lawfully entitled to from the driver. If the RK does give the name of the driver, the PPC must solely pursue the driver. Therefore as long as the PPC goes through the correct process, relying solely on the argument that "I was not the driver" won't help you. However that is the only change, and if the decision is to ignore then it simply means that the RK ignores rather than the driver.

        •There is an independent "appeals" process, operated by Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA). The grounds on which POPLA will consider an appeal look to be narrow and until the first appeals are heard we don't know the stance it will take. However the appeal costs you nothing and costs the PPC £27+ VAT, so we would recommend that everyone who is so inclined appeals. The best grounds seem to be:◦"The parking charge (ticket) exceeds the relevant amount" (if the charge is not valid it should be zero), and;

        ◦"I am not liable for the parking charge" (if the charge is an unlawful penalty, or the PPC has no interest in the land to offer a contract, etc there will be no liability)

        Even if you lose at POPLA, it's not binding on you and the PPC would still have to go to court if they wanted to pursue their claim. Note that you will have to exhaust the PPC's own so-called "appeals" process before POPLA will consider an appeal to them.

        You should be aware that the Protection of Freedoms Act doesn't affect the legal position regarding enforceability of these tickets in any way.

        Exceptions to Advice to Ignore PPC Tickets

        A PPC will normally obtain the name and address of the vehicle's Registered Keeper from DVLA, and pursue them for their ticket. In some cases where you were the driver but are not the RK, leaving the PPC to pursue the RK might be more hassle or more expensive than providing your details to the PPC, naming yourself as the driver and putting up with the junk mail yourself. For example:

        •You drive a Company car. Your employers may be unhappy about receiving a stream of claims from the PPC/debt collectors, and it could affect your relationship with them;

        •You were driving a hire car, and may incur administration charges from the hire company for dealing with the PPC letters;

        •The RK is a friend or relative who may find it too stressful to receive the threatening PPC letters (particularly since they won't have the same level of understanding as you do now!).

        In these circumstances you might wish to write to the PPC telling them that you were the driver, and then carry on ignoring them after that.

        1. Monty Burns

          "Establishing that all of the elements of a contract (offer, acceptance, consideration) are present"

          I thought that was the killer line though. Even if they have you on CCTV walking up to the parking tarrifs board, it does not mean you understood what it means. As they cannot prove you understood the "offer", you therefore could not accept. As you didn't understand what was written then you clearly didn't understand that you had to pay or that it was an offer to start with.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            It only came in two weeks ago (1st October). I doubt anyone has had chance to test it yet.

          2. RICHTO Silver badge
            Mushroom

            In the small claims court the level of proof is 'the balance of probability' - so not impossible to expect that a reasonable person would have noticed cand understood clearly displayed signs. The best one imo is that they can only recover actual losses and not a penalty.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              so

              Does that mean, I park, I dont pay, I get a fine for the cost of the parking had I bothered to get a ticket? Because that sounds great. I often have no idea if Im staying 1 hour or 3, so now I dont have to bother? I just drive in, drive out and wait for the bill?

              Will council run/managed car parks have a different law as they are the council so can issue fines?

              1. xyz

                Re: so

                YOU DO NOT GET A FINE<<<<<. It's an unsolicited invoice from a company which if you receive one, you just bin. These are not like council or police tickets

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: so

                  Indeed. I have done this many times. They cannot enforce it and call it a civil penalty.

          3. Nigel 11

            Civil court

            Arguments in civil proceedings are on "the balance of probabilities". If you've been filmed reading the contract, you can't argue that you did not understand it unless it's (deliberately?) misleading or unclear. (You might have a better case if you were a foreign tourist with minimal English). If on the other hand you did not read the notice, the argument will be over whether it was displayed sufficiently prominently for that to be an unreasonable action on your part. (Note - what's reasonable on a bright sunny day may not be reasonable after dark or during a snowstorm).

        2. Mark 65

          Your advice seems to contain a contradictory element, namely...

          "Therefore as long as the PPC goes through the correct process, relying solely on the argument that "I was not the driver" won't help you. "

          and yet you earlier state that the normal process of contract applies (offer, acceptance, consideration etc). If you are not the driver then they cannot go after you as you did not enter into any contract and you may legitimately not know who was driving the vehicle - husband and wife with several adult children insured on a vehicle, for example. It cannot work both ways.

          1. RICHTO Silver badge
            Mushroom

            The law now says the owner is responsible if they dont identify the driver at the time. That is why saying "I was not the driver" will no longer help you.

            IF you do admit to being the driver then the normal process of contract law (and all the other burdens of proof above) apply.

            That is how it 'works both ways'

        3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          > charges must be a genuine pre-estimate of loss, or actual damages caused by trespass

          This is an interesting one. If there were still spaces in the car park available to other customers, you could argue that your presence there cost them nothing, since they lost no business.

          1. Jason 24
            Go

            @Phil O'Sophical

            > charges must be a genuine pre-estimate of loss, or actual damages caused by trespass

            This is an interesting one. If there were still spaces in the car park available to other customers, you could argue that your presence there cost them nothing, since they lost no business.

            Could I then take that one step further and argue that in the same way people are more inclined to go into a busy restaurant as they tend to be good restaurants, a fuller car park gives an illusion of a better car park and therefore others are more inclined to park there?

            I know I've decided not to park on a few of the "car parks" in Manchester when I've seen they're empty apart from the dodgy geezer in his track suit at the entrance...

      3. Nigel 11

        It can't assume agreement!

        The private parking company has to establish that you had accepted a contract with it. This means it has to display its terms and conditions in a place where they cannot reasonablty be overlooked. (For example, un-lit notices at night fail this test, as do vandalized notices). They also have to comply with all relevant contract law, for example no unfair terms, and no small print that a person with driving-legal vision might be unable to read under the prevailing conditions.

        They'll bully and bluster, but if the contract is not valid for reasons such as the above, take photographs to prove it, and tell them that you'll see them in court. "Honest John" in the Telegraph has examples of this most weeks! (There's also legislation concerning harassment, if they continue to pester after you've told them "see you in court" and requested that they cease harassing you.)

        Incidentally penalty charges have to be fair. If you agree that you owe something for parking there, but that what is demanded is exorbitant, the best policy is to offer a smaller sum, or see them in court if they decline it . If the court agrees that a tenner was fair, they'll have lost a small fortune in legal fees. This applies, for example, if you overstay what you paid for by a few minutes, especially if you can argue that the car park was not busy and you deprived no-one else of a parking space.

    2. Real Ale is Best

      That's a handy site. Thanks!

    3. Keep Refrigerated
      Trollface

      Ignoring private parking...

      I always ignore because, although tying them up in their own bureaucracy costs them, it's a little bit like responding to spam emails - in that they suddenly discover there's a person willing to participate in their sham and are more likely to keep haras^H^H^H^H^H annoying you. It is fun to read the escalation letters though - fonts get bigger, blacker, redder, ££££'s...!

      Life in the UK pro tip: The more threatening and dire the warning letter from a private company - the less legal power they have to back it up. If they don't take action after their own ridiculously short deadline of 7 days (other than writing another 7 day warning), then they likely never will. IANAL YMMV.

    4. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      ^^^^^ Wot he said

      x several million

  4. Eguro
    Meh

    Trust them untill

    Well I guess they should get a chance - but I really hope there's some clear information about them specifically not using the information for other purposes than parking and the handling of fees with regards to that.

    Of course "parking" might include "tailoring your parking experience, regardless of where you park. This will make your parking experience more enjoyable and relevant to you specifically" [READ: Advertisements, advertisements everywhere]

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The real problem

      The DVLA are so quick to flog our private data for a few quid.

      There are so many ways this can be abused. Mr gangster gets cut up by someone and loses him before he can give him a road rage beating, but got the numberplate. Goes to friend who works at car park firm and gets the drivers details and sends the lads around.

      One would think there was some kind of protection from this but if there is....there will be so many holes in it.

  5. Dunstan Vavasour
    Devil

    Enslavement

    We will not be enslaved through coercion, but by the lure of convenience.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Enslavement

      We will not be enslaved through coercion, but by the lure of convenience.

      Excuse me while I steal that for my quotation file. That is excellent.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I see a growing market

    For those rotating number plate holders

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I see a growing market

      Rotating? I'll have an eInk plate ta, forget all this mechanical lark. Then you can just match your plate up to same make/model/colour cars that already park there who will have evidence of paying, just another computer error etc.

      1. Monty Burns

        Re: I see a growing market

        And one day a copper will pull you and you'll do time for "attempting to pervert" because there is only ONE reason you would have a legitimatley formatted plate with the wrong data.

        I'd rather just pay a few parking charges thanks.

    2. JakeyC

      Re: I see a growing market

      Yeah I've wanted one ever since I saw Bond's.

      Turns out they do exist: http://plate-flipper.com/

      1. Nigel 11
        Coat

        Re: I see a growing market

        Or you could get a plate like WM110MW and a single screw

  7. Robert E A Harvey
    Big Brother

    Where is Patrick McGoohan when you need him?

    I think I just saw a big white balloon bouncing along the road outside.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Where is Patrick McGoohan when you need him?

      Yeah but it will only stop you getting out of the parking until you cough up.

      [Bonus if accompanied by two hired muscle goons in gay outfits coming at you in a golf cart.]

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        muscle goons in gay outfits coming at you in a golf cart.

        Given where the multistorys are in Peterborugh - near the old Queens Arms - the gay muscle goons may be issuing lots of penalties.

      2. NogginTheNog
        Thumb Up

        Re: Where is Patrick McGoohan when you need him?

        Walking around some of these modern shopping 'malls', they do rather resemble The Village sometimes!

        1. Robert E A Harvey
          Big Brother

          Re: Where is Patrick McGoohan when you need him?

          I have half an idea there was an episode with everyone walking round with earpieces, like MP3 drones.

  8. Silverburn
    Thumb Down

    How very "unsporting"

    No more the calculated gamble of being a few minutes later for the meter (c'mon...who *hasn't* done this?)...instead, the second you go overdue you get fined.

    Once again, technology has taken the fun out of another of life's games. Gone now is the chance of a small victory celebration as you go overdue by 5 minutes yet avoid a ticket.

    1. Tom Wood

      Re: How very "unsporting"

      But similarly, no risk of paying for more hours than were necessary because you weren't sure how long you actually needed.

      The same is true of the "pay on exit" type car park where you get a paper ticket from the machine on your way in.

      Much better generally than "pay and display".

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another thing to avoid as much as possible. I dont want to be tracked.. its no ones business but MINE!

    1. handle

      Naive

      You drive a car and you think the only thing tracking you is ANPR readers in car parks? I assume don't have a mobile phone and you buy everything with cash, too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Naive

        Mostly cash actually..... except for those purchases where having a CC card jointly liable is useful... and payg phone my free text allowance for topping up is useful and more people call me than I call...... and living rather rurally I also tend to use back lanes a lot, often quicker than sitting in a stream of traffic behind a HGV proudly displaying a "limited to 40 mph" sign... or one of those muppets who slows down to 35mph any time there is the slightest hint of moisture on the road.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Naive

          really, and you pay no council tax or use utilities, never recieve post.

          Some people are so dumb as to think they are invisible to the world.

          check the local council lists and you'll see what is already on the internet, check your vehicle reg on one of those text checker sites to see how you, your vehocle and insurence details are already out in the ether.

        2. Monty Burns

          Re: Naive/ AC 10:12

          You need to get out more and stop worrying about shit you really can't do much about and generally, won't really affect you....

  10. AndyC

    Parking Charge Notices - NOT fines

    As another poster has said, there are not 'fines' just charges for parking on private property. If you haven't registered your details, then all they can do is issue speculative invoices based on some 'questionable' request to the DVLA to get the registered keepers details.

    I for one will not be registering with them. If they want to try and chase me for some unenforcable Parking Charge Notice, then they can waste their money on postage.

    1. Tom Wood

      Re: Parking Charge Notices - NOT fines

      It's not even a "parking charge notice". (That is a term chosen only because it's confusingly similar to "Penalty Charge Notice" which is what the police give you).

      It's a demand for payment, which may or may not be legally valid depending on any contract you are deemed to have entered into with the car park operator.

  11. Silverburn

    Should the car park really be a worry then travel by motorcycle, as SwishPARK admits that the lack of front plate makes two-wheeled transport invisible to them

    That and the fact most (but not all) council motorbike parks are still free anyway. And probably closer.

    1. Test Man
      FAIL

      A bit difficult when you're trying to buy something big like a TV from Argos or shopping from a supermarket.

  12. Velv Silver badge
    FAIL

    "If there's no account then the driver is given a little time to pay by other means (paythru can take registrations though a .mobi site) but eventually a fine will be issued which can be served via the DVLA details linked to the plate."

    Define "a little time"? 10 minutes? An hour? Until you leave the car park? A week?

    Not everyone has access to mobile internet, and possibly not even access to a mobile phone, so how else are they offering to accept? Remember that cash must always be an option - legal tender as payment for services.

    As a side note, legislation needs to be introduced to ensure these car park clearly display an ANPR sign BEFORE entering so that people have the option to opt out of parking there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'Legal Tender'

      You state "cash must always be an option" - this is not correct.

      The concept of 'Legal Tender' concerns what denominations of coins and notes are acceptable as payment OF A COURT DEBT of specified amounts.

      This has NO BEARING on whether a business, shop or any other party is prepared to accept any particular means of payment. It is a very common point of confusion.

      In a contract for the supply of goods or services, the acceptable payment methods are an element of that agreement. In other words, it is entirely up to the individual in question as to whether they accept £5 notes, Scottish £5 notes, or toothpicks as payment.

      Bottom line is: you cannot argue with a shop if they tell you they are not prepared to accept the £10 note or the thousand pennies you are offering them in exchange for a packet of fags. You cannot argue with a private business offering parking facilities if they say that the only acceptable payment is by mobile phone. In these situations referring to 'Legal Tender' just makes you an idiot.

      See http://www.royalmint.com/aboutus/policies-and-guidelines/legal-tender-guidelines

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'Legal Tender'

        Most resident pay and display meters also advise people of other forms of payment including pre-paid vouchers, text etc so when the machine is out of order you still cannot park without paying

    2. M0JDR

      Well the Public car parks in Welwyn Garden City using this system work differently, the number plate is read when arriving at the car park when you leave you pay on foot at a machine, this involves typing in part of you reg number and identifying the photo of your car from 3 possible ones shown it then tells you the charge which you pay either by cash or card and then driving out, no barriers involved. There is also an option to pay online and I think you have 24hrs grace in which to do it. It has been i operation nearly a year and seems to work well, surprisingly!

      1. Test Man
        Thumb Up

        Yep, I've used these (at the one opposite The Howard Centre, not in the one opposite Waitrose - I haven't used this one since they put it in). No barriers at all, you just park and pay when you come back, or pay online before the end of the day.

        Also similar-ish is the numerous car parks at the (London) airports - they have cameras that scan your numberplate just before the barriers.

        1. Graham Cobb

          Interestingly, the car parks at Heathrow absolutely consistently misread my number plate and get one letter wrong. I wonder if other car park ANPR get it wrong the same way and I could park for free with no hassle of invoices to ignore!

      2. Test Man

        I was also going to say that annoyingly the car park opposite the side of The Howard Centre (at least) put up its prices at some point this year. So no more parking there, I'll go back to parking at the normal barrier car park in The Howard Centre.

  13. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Just as towns are discovering that free parking

    more than pays for itself in increased footfall and associated sales.

    If I pop in my local library on a Saturday morning I can tell almost to the second when free parking starts in town.

    1. Joe Harrison

      Re: Just as towns are discovering that free parking

      Exactly. I was charged GBP6.50 for parking for 2 hours 7 minutes in Reading yesterday (a Sunday). I'm not likely to shop there again. Greedy car park operators are making life even more difficult for retailers.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Just as towns are discovering that free parking

        I don't know, my town is served by a few multi-stories and all streets are metered but you still struggle to find a space at the weekend.

        You must live somewhere grim :)

      2. electricmonk
        Facepalm

        Re: Just as towns are discovering that free parking

        >>> "Exactly. I was charged GBP6.50 for parking for 2 hours 7 minutes in Reading yesterday (a Sunday). I'm not likely to shop there again. Greedy car park operators are making life even more difficult for retailers."

        Yeah, that explains why Reading's car parks are always half empty and it's always easy to find a sp-

        Hey, wait a minute...

      3. ScottME

        Re: Just as towns are discovering that free parking

        Don't mention Reading. Not only are the car park charges extortionate, but the town's traffic planners seem to really have it in for motorists in general, if the design of the town's junctions, one-way systems and traffic light phasing are anything to go by. Avoid the place at all costs!

        1. JohnG

          Re: Just as towns are discovering that free parking : Reading

          "...the town's traffic planners seem to really have it in for motorists in general"

          It's a Labour council: The roads are intended for use by party officials in their Zils and Chaikas - the proles are supposed to use public transport.

  14. Trevor Marron

    I have been invoiced for parking in private car parks with ANPR in the past, but as I was not driving then I had not entered into a contract with the people trying to collect the money. As there is no requirement to keep details of who was driving a non-company vehicle, and no requirement to pass the details on anyway I simply put the letters in the bin.

    I would advise anyone in the same situation to do exactly the same.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is not good advice any more sadly. As of this month the law has changed to place the liability onto the registered keeper.

      1. bluest.one

        You may be correct, but how can a third party sign you up to a contract without your consent?

  15. Sean Houlihane

    Not a fine

    Its a request for free money, not a fine - unless its a council run car-park.

    1. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Not a fine

      As well as council ones, police fines and those covered by Railway Byelaws can be enforced via the magistrates courts. All others = ignore them is the standard response.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scamsters

    "eventually a fine will be issued"

    Fail.

    You mean an unenforceable invoice will be sent, hoping the recipient falls for the scam.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Scamsters

      Such a scam, expecting you to pay to use the car-park!

      If such car-parks have barriers, they could presumably stop you getting in if you have outstanding bills... so whether the invoice is legally enforceable would be moot. That's what I would do.

      1. tony
        Happy

        Re: Scamsters

        "If such car-parks have barriers,"

        They don't, usually, as that would reduce profit having to pay for a person to be on site for the inevitable breakdowns barriers have. Many station carparks have gone down this route remove barriers and staff and clamp (while it's still legal) second offenders.

        Anyhow are they charging you for the time it takes to find space?

  17. teapot9999
    Megaphone

    Free parking should be the norm

    We have free parking in West Oxfordshire, the towns seem to be thriving, even new shops opening during the recession.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Free parking should be the norm

      Free parking in town centres is commonplace in France, and probably explains why large numbers of small shops continue to thrive there even with competition from big out-of-town complexes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Free parking should be the norm

        "Free parking in town centres is commonplace in France"

        No it's not.

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Free parking should be the norm

          Um, I *live* there - I know whereof I speak, dude.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. tony

      Re: Free parking should be the norm

      Brent Cross is the same, a place to avoid at the weekends due to the sheer amount of people in there.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Free parking should be the norm

        Brent Cross is busy at week-ends, but if you are sensible and head straight up the multi-storey without trying to find a place on the shopping levels, it's not THAT busy. Well, not except in the run-up to Xmas in a good year for retailers, when the queue to get in tends to block the North Circular. (Not as bad as the one at Thurrock that causes a tailback on the clockwise M25 as far as the Hertfordshore borders on a bad day, but that's another story).

        I don't mind paying for parking if the charge is not exorbitant. A good retailer ought to know what its car parking spaces are worth. A bad one will run out of fools to rip off soon enough, and go bust, so the problem is mostly self-correcting.

        BTW if you are even slightly aggrieved by a retailer's car park operator, do draw the correspondence to the attention of the store manager woth the suggestion that this is likely the last time you have shopped at his store! (You may get some vouchers to lure you back, and the car park operator may get the order of the boot if enough folks do likewise. Definitely worth the stamp! )

  18. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    FAIL

    Ignoring all the other issues about privacy, fines/charges etc

    I'll simply point out that the car I use most often to park at airports - this technology is in use at both Luton and Heathrow - includes 'WMX' in the registration and the APNR doesn't like it; I've had five failures in the last five visits.

    It fails to inspire confidence.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ignoring all the other issues about privacy, fines/charges etc

      It gets worse if you drive a pukka import with undersized plates (which is legal by the way if the recesses won't take a regular EU sized plate) with Ws and Ms in.

      Now they've outlawed sticky foam for mounting the plates, imports have to use the threaded holes provided which mandates metal screws (M6 for Japanese and Aus, something archaic for US). That really upsets a lot of NPR. A local petrol station has a screen behind the counter flashing up the license plate numbers of the cars on the forecourt. It has never got mine right yet.

  19. David Leigh 1

    What a load of tosh

    but eventually a fine will be issued

    I would refer you to this:

    'A parking operator has no power to recover a parking charge without first taking court action. The company may continue to send requests to pay and you can continue to ignore these unless they decide to take you to the small claims court. If the parking operator does take you to court, you may be able to defend the action, for example, on the grounds that you did not park in breach of the parking rules and/or that the fee being demanded is unreasonably high.'

    It is also debatable whether they would have to establish who was the driver as opposed to the registered owner before taking legal action.

    This is another example (one of many) of cutting and pasting press releases without questioning the veracity of the claims.

    1. Anonymous Cowerd
      FAIL

      "eventually a fine will be issued"

      No it won't. These are not fines.

      A speculative invoice will be issued, which will be ignored.

  20. Derk
    Big Brother

    The March of technology, the creep of the surveillance state.

    I expect that within the next 50 years you will all be chipped anyway. Your location will be known every waking and sleeping moment. It will be done of course in the interests of your "safety" and "convenience" Traditional crimes such as robbery and murder will be harder to commit as you'll be placed at the crime scene, or not. No need to carry cash or credit cards, just wave your hand over the terminal, and your account will be automatically debited.

    Break the law or upset your political masters, and it could be very difficult to survive, no food, no trade, no heat or shelter.

    Slowly but surely you'll accept your whereabouts being known to private companies, government agencies. All those dystopian fantasies seen in the movies will become reality for you. Personally I'd rather go without. If you boycott them, they will fail. Your choice.

    1. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: The March of technology, the creep of the surveillance state.

      This was widely reported as being likely to happen with the advent of DNA technology, but has not in fact happened. This is because criminals are not all as unutterably dim as the police would like to suppose. Thus it has become common for the more forward-thinking of burglars to lurk around the seedier pubs and collect discarded cigarette ends, storing these in plastic bags.

      When out burgling houses, they then discard these pre-smoked cigarette ends in and around the property being burgled, to give investigating police officers some obvious suspects to link to the crime. Eventually most burglars get caught, but use of this trick significantly delays this capture.

      RFIDs would seem to be a similar panacea, until one realises that they can be degaussed using a suitably large Helmholtz coil, and that they can also be readily duplicated (and if the authorities insist on using them for tracking, they WILL be readily duplicated). In a city, the easiest way of running interference against any pervasive RFID tracking would be to feed RFIDs disguised as birdseed to pigeons, thus giving police a multiplicity of objects to track which are not the wanted item.

      1. Nigel 11
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: The March of technology, the creep of the surveillance state.

        RFID'ed pigeons. Brilliant!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Tin foll hat time

        In a city, the easiest way of running interference against any pervasive RFID tracking would be to feed RFIDs disguised as birdseed to pigeons, thus giving police a multiplicity of objects to track which are not the wanted item.

        Ah. That's the real reason my city has had a campaign against feeding pigeons

        :-)

  21. Peter Ford

    A recent case highlights the wrong here

    I read of a case where a person had used a car park which has two entrances/exits as a through route to get to another (private) car park. They were spotted by ANPR going in, and then spotted coming out some hours later, but never actually parked in the car park. The parking company hounded them for money, but couldn't actually prove that the car had been parked in the car park!

    So when challenged, you say "Prove that my car actually occupied a space in your car park, and then I may consider paying!"

    It is much simpler to employ someone to walk around checking, surely?

  22. trachycarpus

    I hope they have chosen a better version of the software, some only read 1st in and last out, so giving a longer parking period. Ranger know this well and some companies have been known to exploit this. The DVLA request will only give the RK details and not the drivers so the request for money (its not a fine) will go to the RK, he/she will then either disclose the drivers details or appeal. If, sorry, when the appeal fails then the RK/driver is offered an appeal through the Popla (Parking on Private Land Appeals) service which costs the ppc £27.00+vat per appeal (free to drivers)and is binding only on the ppc. The driver/RK is still free to ignore the ppc as previously and then the ppc can seek the money through the County Court system. There are many reasons why they don't do this, mainly because they (nearly)always lose.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More than mere privacy issues

    I mean, yes, it's <identity>+<location>+<time> data that is more-or-less resolvable to some person of account, with the onus put on you to prove your innocence, which you can't because proving negatives is exactly why we moved to "innocent until proving guilty" in the first place. So this is a regression and the makings of a database of ruin to boot. But it's not all that's wrong with this.

    The other thing that springs out is that number plates are attached to cars for the sake of law enforcement, not for the sake of billing. So why is the DVLA letting itself be used that way? Because someone thought it funny to sell personal data to random strangers? This is pretty damning, especially since the people in the database have no choice but to be in there, law forces them to sign up. It's not that much of a stretch to equate this practice to private companies abusing social security numbers for their database keys, which happens despite prohibited by law, and which invariably turns out to be detrimental for the people in the database, which is why it was banned in the first place. So, why are we allowing outfits like this to do the exact same thing with data that turns out to be, once the plates are resolved to names and addresses, just as much personally sensitive?

    The problem of course is that the UK pretty much prevented itself from questioning the legitimacy of this by rolling out nation-wide ANPR-with-massive-database-kept-forever on no justification at all. Because, one person (natural or otherwise) doing this is no justification for another doing exactly the same in theory, except that it works out that way in practice anyway. We should stop being mum about it and decide just how far we'd like to take this, then call the eager dogs to heel.

    We still have a bit of choice here. With enough of a ruckus we can break down the ubiqutous surveillance --and it really doesn't matter whether the parties doing it are commercial or not-- and figure out ways and means to achieve much the same without locking ourselves into a dystopia where people are nothing but peons to be tracked and made to dance.

    Or, we can let it slide and lose that choice. Because the more interwoven these systems, the less room there is to escape. Without clear direction from us, the window will continue closing until it cannot be opened up again without, oh, armed revolution or collapse of civilisation or a similarly dramatic breakdown.

    It really isn't just this thing, this is but one out of far too many. But it's a good and vivid example. All you need to do now, yet, is think about it, especially think through what can (and thus will) happen sooner or later, and speak up loud and clear. Later on you won't have voice left, for the impetus to keep it all going will be too great.

  24. trachycarpus

    Forgot to mention that pepipoo.com, Moneysavingexpert and CAG are good websites to look into for all parking problems.

  25. Jack Project

    The funniest thing to do is fill a trolley full of frozen food and other assorted items, walk to the other end of the shop and then tell a manager that you will have to leave the trolley in the aisle because your free parking allocation is about to run out. Gives them food for thought.

    1. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Speak for yourself. My time is worth far more to fill the trolley than that of the supermarket droids that would have to empty it again, so I wouldn't view that as a net gain. Or particularly funny when you can simply ignore the parking charges anyway.

      1. David Ward 1
        Thumb Down

        Poor attitude!

        " My time is worth far more to fill the trolley than that of the supermarket droids" - Doesn't that attitude optimise one of the major causes of discontent in this country.

        1. Jack Project

          Re: Poor attitude!

          It also allows these companies to continue to harass people. Just because one person feels confident enough to ignore doesnt mean there will be hundreds more that will not cave in.

          Even then it's not 100% you wont end up in court and these PPOC's have won cases, albeit poorly defended ones.

          What needs to happen is for companies employing these sharks in the first place. I consider it a community service. I'm sorry that the poster above has so little time for his community.

        2. RICHTO Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Poor attitude!

          What - that working as a career stacking shelves in a Supermarket is a dead end job for those that failed in life? Yes probably. I would say that's a common UK perception.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They have this at the very posh Royal William Yard in Plymouth. It works pretty well, you park up and when you are going to leave go and type your reg in to one of the terminals it then displays a picture of your car and you pay (£1 for 3h bargin!) Only trouble is the placement of the terminals in direct sunlight means its very hard to actually view the display on the bleedy things and old duffers get very confused!

    1. Paul_Murphy

      £1 for 3h <> bargin, sorry bargain.

      When I started driving there were no car park charges, so you could go shopping without having to mess around with where to park in order not to bankrupt yourself.

      Nowadays we do most of our shopping over the internet with occasional trips out to a supermarket with their free parking and I believe high-streets are suffering due to this.

      Car boot sales were also free to enter - unlike the current situation where it costs you whether you end up buying something or not.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: £1 for 3h <> bargin, sorry bargain.

        and men were men, women stayed at home and cooked....

        Sorry but the world has moved on

        that's as twatty as saying there was no drink driving laws so I drink drive still

    2. Peb

      re and old duffers get very confused!

      And therein is the big problem with this system!

      We encountered ANPR + Car park on a recent visit to Weston Super Mare (also known as ‘by the mud’) and found the new car park using this system. Out of season WSM has a high percentage of older customers (!) and the confusion at the pay points had to be seen to be believed. Just while waiting (in the 15 minute queue) I saw people trying to enter six characters (for the required ‘enter the last three characters of your car reg’), people unable to read the screen (I hope because of the sun! these people were about to drive off) and intense discussions ‘just what is our car reg?’

      The confusion was helped not at all by hand written (scrawled) signs telling people they did not need a ticket, and no explanation of what ANPR was… and what it meant to the customers

      Major FAIL

  27. Martin Wheatley
    Thumb Up

    Car parks of the future

    I love parking in Welwyn Garden City Sainsbury's, that is the car park of the future (and free for 2 hours if you shop in the store too), signs saying how many spaces are available on each row (never mind the floor which you get in some car parks), and red/green light above the space showing you where the space actually is so no more driving around looking for that one spare space.

    My wife forces me to go there just to experience the car park even if we don't need any shopping.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Car parks of the future

      I refer you to Dunstan's posting near the top..

      "Enslavement

      We will not be enslaved through coercion, but by the lure of convenience."

      Hands up who thought that ANPR was only ever going to be used to catch baddies? No-one? Anyone?

    2. Test Man
      Thumb Up

      Re: Car parks of the future

      I was completely confused until I realised you were talking about the car park underneath the store and not the outside one.

      What you have said reminds me of the Heathrow Terminal 5 car park, or Westfield Stratford.

      Next time I'll drive to THAT car park!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tesco

    Tesco's where I live has cameras watching traffic entering and leaving the carpark. So this is nothing new.

  29. Fading Silver badge
    Joke

    Time for a new number plate

    With a nod to XKCD my new number plate will read M '); DROP TABLE *;-- LDZ

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Re: Time for a new number plate

      Excuse me sir... is this your car?

      http://i325.photobucket.com/albums/k397/smlnbndt/speed_camera_drop_table.jpg

  30. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge
    FAIL

    I wonder how rigorously the ANPR cameras are watched?

    Imagine this scenario: Firstly, you go and discover the number plate of a high-ranking Council officer; the major or chief exec, say.

    Secondly, you get a showplate of this number made up in legal font and spacing.

    Thirdly, you walk into the car park (walk, mind you, not drive a car in) displaying the plate to the ANPR cameras, then stick the plate under your coat and walk out again.

    I am guessing that the car parks are going to be operated by the usual breed of car parking attendants, for whom anything more complex than a biro is incomprehensible black magic. Thus, if "The Computer Says This" then it will be held to be true, come what may.

    A few times round the block getting Council Chief execs, Chief Constables and similar worthies issued with bogus fines ought to force the parking people to significantly up their game, or get out of the business entirely.

    1. Keep Refrigerated
      Thumb Up

      Re: I wonder how rigorously the ANPR cameras are watched?

      Wow, that sounds like a hilarious new prank has been invented! Perhaps someone could start to get t-shirts printed with random number plates on them and wear them shopping.

    2. Test Man
      FAIL

      Re: I wonder how rigorously the ANPR cameras are watched?

      Won't work probably for the same reason why car parks with barriers aren't fooled by a person walking up to it (i.e. the system will know you're not a vehicle).

  31. Terry 6 Silver badge
    WTF?

    Lego Brick parking

    They have a better system at LegoLand (Windsor).

    You drive in to the open driveway. You proceed up the long sweeping drive lined with cute Lego Model workers spelling out the word "Welcome"

    You park your car in the carpark.

    You stroll up to the booths to buy your entrance to LegoLand.

    And only then do you find a sign telling you that it's £2 to park. your car.

    There is a barrier on exit.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Lego Brick parking

      If the above report is true, then they are breaking the law. Certainly inform trading standards. Possibly inform the police, if they refuse to raise the barrier without payment.

      In order to extablish a parking contract there has be a notice that's clear to read while driving in, with an escape lane or escape clause for those who choose not to accept the contract and wish to leave immediately.

    2. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Lego Brick parking

      Drive out of the entrance.

  32. Irongut

    UK car parks?

    "UK car parks"

    "The system is called SwishPARK and already operational in eleven car parks, six in Welwyn Garden City, the rest scattered around England."

    Repeat after me... England != UK

    1. Tom Wood

      But England is a subset of the UK

      Therefore a car park in England is still most definitely a "UK car park". 11 car parks in England may be described with complete accuracy (but slightly less detail) as "11 UK car parks". Would you like a Venn diagram?

  33. BorkedAgain
    FAIL

    Are these the same muppets...

    ...I saw featured on Watchdog or somesuch similar program, who kept sending invoices to various local residents who lived near the car park and whose cars kept registering on the ANPR cameras as they drove to and from home?

  34. Jean Le PHARMACIEN
    Holmes

    "Free parking in town centres is commonplace in France"

    as one person has said - it's not BUT you may find that the 2 hours over lunch *is not counted in the paid-for parking* i.e. is free. having said that - you will find all shops/offices are ususally closed in those types of towns and all you can do is find a place to eat and wiat 'til they open (along with all the ofice /shop staff...)

    Also out-of town shopping marts are very common in France and closing down/closed/empty shops in town centres are also very common.

    The grass is not always greener in France (speaking as one who has a house there). You may also wish to try the 'gendarmes in unmarked car + lying flat in the back" speed cameras? Or the front -flash speed cameras designed to photo/identify speeding driver? Or "thou shalt not have your sat-nav showing speed camera locations or it's a fine for you.?.....I could go on.

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: "Free parking in town centres is commonplace in France"

      Which is why when we holidayed with the kids in France we would do something in the morning then drive to something else for the afternoon while the French were all parked up, including the HGV drivers. Makes for clear roads. Considering most Brasseries, Creperies etc will serveryou lunch after 2pm quite happily this works well.

  35. MR J

    mmmm

    wonder how good the scanner is, Overflow Hacking here we come ;P....

    (You entered the car park at 11:52pm on jan 1st 2083, you exited on 02:00pm on jan 1st 1970, our per hour charge is £2, please find enclosed an automatic bill in the amount of -£1,994,202 that will be transferred via DirectDebit, thanks for parking with us, please visit again)

  36. BCS
    Stop

    Pay or park somewhere else...

    Amazed by the number of people who seem to think they shouldn't pay for parking. It's someone's land, they offer to allow you to park for a fee, you park. Why shouldn't you pay? If you want free parking then go somewhere else.

    1. Nigel 11
      Thumb Up

      Re: Pay or park somewhere else...

      Quite. It's fair enough to complain about being charged for parking on the public highway that you've already paid to drive on. Especially when the motive is clearly to raise revenue rather than to help with traffic flow. But when it comes to someone's private property, he has the right to charge whatever he likes and you have the right to agree, or to go elsewhere.

      1. David Ward 1
        Stop

        Re: Pay or park somewhere else...

        I seriously hope you are not implying that paying road tax should entitle you to park on any bit of "public highway" you take fancy to?

        1. Test Man

          Re: Pay or park somewhere else...

          What road tax?

          No such thing as "road tax". What was called "road tax" in the past was abolished in the 1930s.

    2. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Pay or park somewhere else...

      Because you dont in many cases legally have to pay, therefore payment can be considered optional.

  37. Park Smart

    Not New, but some confusion..

    It's certainly not new, but it is all a bit confusing? Do you have a contract with Parkeon, PayThru or Ranger? Where are the terms and conditions? Who do I complain to if it doesn't work? And what stops any of these organisations sharing the data without you knowing?

    Who knows at the moment....

  38. Sam Jelfs

    Another good reason for driving a classic...

    One of my cars is old enough to run silver-on-black plates front and back... never had an ANPR system be able to read the plates yet. My other car has dutch plates on it, again, UK car parks get very confused by the dashes in it.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about non-local plates?

    Forgive my ignorance, but: does this system understand all the possible plates it might encounter? e.g. what if somebody from Germany pulls in - are the plates throughout Europe all the same?

    (and if you REALLY want to confuse the system - what happens if somebody has US plates?)

  40. Mr Young
    Coat

    You know what?

    I really am getting sick of this shit - if the DVLA sells my information for a purpose it was not intended then I assume I'd be within my rights to expect a cheque in the the post thanks very much? Thought not? Fuck them! Already running etc

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You know what?

      They will sell it to anyone registered with the British parking association.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Adventurously-spaced number plates

    I have slightly non-conformist spacing on my number plate (no gap between the first group and the second), but the font is the standard UK legal font and the background is the standard one.

    One of the WGC car parks completely failed to identify the plate. I exited without paying and paid up online when I got home, as I assumed that a human operator would trawl all of the non-matches and issue penalty charges.

    There are companies in Northern Ireland with a web presence who will sell you number plates without the necessary documentation. If you want anything other than standard UK plates you have to sign the "show use only" disclaimer, but they're great even for standard UK plates as there's no need to dig out all of the documentation.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've been caught by several of these scams.

    Asda which has this system and is controlled by Town & City Parking got me in April.

    I totally ignored it and then got a follow up a month later, well over the 2 weeks they said it would go up in price.

    About another month later I got a debt recovery letter. Ignored that too and it went away.

    They got my details from the DVLA also. The times and dates made no sense and our security system at work showed I was in my office at the time.

    I did a little digging around and nowhere on their signage do they mention fine or on the letter. They call it a civil penalty which after a bit more reading on money saving expert apparently are not a real thing. It's all scare tactics. The debt recovery agency is apparent owned by one of the CEO's of TCP also. The letter looked photocopied and had incorrect information on it.

    I've ignored 3 other fines from this and other private camera managed car parks and none ever go past the debt recovery letter.

    What legal right do these companies actually have to enforce these 'civil fines'?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I parked in Welwyn

    ... about a year ago. The machine where you enter your vehicle number and pay was mounted at such a height that I had to kneel on the floor to use it. But that didn't matter because it wasn't working anyway.

    A couple of weeks later I received a badly-printed letter from a knob^H^H^H^Hsolicitor threatening legal penalties. I wrote a letter pointing out that they'd have fewer problems with payment if their machines worked, but before posting it I did a search online and discovered that notices of this kind are not enforceable. So I didn't post the letter and after a few increasingly stroppy letters he gave up.

    Anon, because I don't want El Reg to start getting letters from the knob.

    1. Test Man
      Stop

      Re: I parked in Welwyn

      By "Welwyn" I assume you mean "Welwyn Garden City". Welwyn is the village north-west of the aforementioned town (and on the other side of the A1(M)).

      Yep, a bit pedantic but, hey.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupid System

    For one it requires you to be a member of some payment scheme. Secondly, it requires you have a form of electronic payment.

    I like how they do it here: You drive in, your car is locked down by a panel under the car. If you want have the car released, you go to the vending machine and pay however you like - that includes *cash*. F0ck this electronic payment vomit.

    Queue slave minded comments in 3... 2... 1...

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cobblers

    If you check out honest johns motor site, you'll find that the 'fines' are unenforceable. Because car park companies aren't a government organization they can't 'fine' the owner of the vehicle and so they must prove who was the driver and charge them. I think it went something along the lines of - in law they cannot fine anyone but they can charge a levy to the driver of the vehicle, so if you don't admit who was driving they can't charge you and have no authority to make you disclose such information.

    See here - http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/forum/post/index.htm?t=77275

    1. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Cobblers

      That's wrong - the law has changed. The owner is now responsible if they don't identify the driver.

  46. Purlieu

    "Fines"

    Please, get this right - these are not fines they are _charges_. they have zero legal standing. They would have to sue you in a civil court to get the money. Do not pay !!!

  47. Prichy
    Flame

    Over-payment

    What annoys me is that the currently improvements in technology only benefit the vendors. The old Pay-and-Display parks used to be pre-payment only; you inserted your cash into the machine, selecting how long you wanted and displayed the ticket in the car. Of course you always over-payed. Now most shopping centres have pay-on-exit so they know more accurately how long you've parked. BUT they still use half-hour or one hour slots for this. So if I pop in for 20 mins I still pay for an hour. But if they know exactly when you entered and left - why can't they charge you accurately? So will this new generation of ANPR machines be fairer - or will the companies still be collecting hundreds of hours more payment per day than their customers actually used?

    1. Test Man
      Go

      Re: Over-payment

      They still charge by the half hour or the hour. There's no change in the pricing structure, at least for the ones in Welwyn Garden City.

  48. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I think its a good idea

    might save me some time finding me car after a bender!

    1. Test Man
      Alert

      Re: I think its a good idea

      It wouldn't help you find your car normally, unless the car park is one of those REALLY sophisticated ones like the one in Heathrow Terminal 5.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Walk in wearing a number plate, and see if the system charges you! ;)

    1. Test Man
      WTF?

      Like I said before, it's likely the system won't do anything in the exact same way car parks with barriers don't raise the barrier when a person approaches (i.e. the system knows you're not a vehicle).

  50. Great Bu

    AANPRCRS

    I am inventing an Automatic Automatic Number Plate Recognition Camera Recognition System - it consists of a camera in your car that recognises ANPR enplacements (possibly with a GPS tie-in for known sites) and activates an LCD display mounted in front of your car number plate.

    When inactive the LCD is clear, when activated it flickers alternating squares at 25fps in front of the number plate.

    To the human viewer the plate appears normal (maybe slightly dimmer, but certainly readable).

    To a camera it will appear to conceal half of the number plate characters, making ANPR reading impossible.

    To avoid legal complications it could be set to only work on private land (where there is no legal requirement to display a number plate) although careless programming on my part (and the inclusion of a switch or soemthing) will probably make this feature suprisingly easy to disable.......

    How do you get on Dragon's Den again ?

    1. Test Man
      FAIL

      Re: AANPRCRS

      Pity it'd be illegal.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AANPRCRS

      Just put a large number of high output LEDs around the plate, marketed as an auxiliary headlight/taillight.

      Bonus if they are IR - and you market them as collision avoidance.

  51. mfritz0
    Meh

    So when they know you're not home

    When there ever is a rash of home robberies, this is the first place I would look. They would know where you live and that you are not at home. Think about it.

    1. Test Man
      WTF?

      Re: So when they know you're not home

      No, they know that the driver is not at home. Most homes have more than one person living in it, there's not necessarily any correlation between a car being out and the house being empty.

      In fact, an ANPR system wouldn't be much different from a rogue person reading a number plate using their eyes, then using nefarious means to access the DVLA database to grab the details (in the exact same way an ANPR system would).

      So you can put your tin foil hat away now.

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