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News & views

Newsman bites back at fierce private-parking practices

Sissons[5 Nov 2013] Now that an army of rampant private-parking companies are dishing out more than two million non-statutory fines a year throughout Britain – often at £100 a time, and sometimes based on unclear signs and cunningly worded terms and conditions that motorists don't see or understand – it’s inevitable that some of the people they sting will be rich, famous and blessed with good press contacts.

One such is Peter Sissons, the 71-year-old former newscaster and Question Time presenter. After being ticketed in Sevenoaks, Sissons wasted no time in beefing about it to the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph (26 Oct).

Sissons was given the £90 ticket at a private car park near his local Homebase store. Having parked in a three-hour bay, he returned after 35 minutes to find the ticket, imposed for allegedly moving his car during that time. This ‘offence’ apparently breached one of the rules being enforced by the operator, Smart Parking.

Sissons confronted Smart Parking’s attendant, who told him that he ‘monitored the position of the tyre valves’ on all parked cars so he could see whether the vehicles had been moved. However, the budding Poirot could not show any photographic evidence of his detective skills. Sissons said, ‘This was nothing more than a lie. I had not moved my car. The fine isn’t what worried me. It’s the deception.’

Enraged, Sissons flagged down a police car and asked officers to intervene, but they said there was nothing they could do as the incident was on private land. His complaint to Homebase, however, got the ticket withdrawn. Thinks: how many times has this game been played out in that car park and in others across the country? And how many people lack Sissons’ stomach to fight back when they think there’s malpractice going on, and just pay up? [cont]

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