Anyone considering driving into Croydon town centre for some Bank Holiday retail therapy* had better beware: NCP have changed the payment system for their car parks on Wellesley Road, with nasty great fines lined up for anyone who fails to follow the tightly regulated system.
The CCTV-controlled car park is now ticketless, using automatic number plate recognition cameras. Drivers entering have to pay by machine within the car park or online within 24 hours.
New notices have popped up over the past month or so (one at a jaunty angle), though they are somewhat understated in flagging up the changed system. The signs at the car park entrance certainly do not make any mention of the time limit for payment.
According to one loyal reader who almost got caught out, “There are signs that specify payment within 24 hours, but it was quite possible to enter the car park, park the car and leave on foot without ever seeing one of those signs.
“Nor are the whereabouts of the payment machines readily sign-posted.”
And the NCP uses what appear to be quasi-official “penalty charge notices” to extract their 60 pounds of flesh.
“The consequences for not paying within 24 hours is a penalty notice. Apparently NCP have the ability to send the penalty notice letter, but not the ability to send a reminder to pay.
“The penalty is a £60 fine which rises to £100 if not paid within a specified time, encouraging most people to acquiesce.
“It’s nothing less than demanding money with menaces,” the reader said, calling the practice “legalised theft”.
They added, “The fine system is wrong in itself. There will be an important consequence for the Whitgift Shopping Centre and nearby shops. People who are once bitten by this will choose to shop elsewhere. The Whitgift was nearly deserted on the two occasions I was there recently. This won’t do anything to help.”
NCP, of course, are acting within their rights – and will rely on the terms and conditions in the small print on notices around their car parks to justify their actions. B
ut the harsh and costly fines for non-payers could yet rebound on them, and the run-down shopping centre that their car park is supposed to serve.
(* – Yes, there are probably many better things to do on a Bank Holiday. But after more than a year of lockdowns, the novelty of strolling through the Whitgift Centre and discovering if there are actually any shops still trading there might offer a diversion for an hour or so on a wet weekend…).
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