Parents angered by 'nightmare' parking fines on school run in Sutton

Fury is mounting among parents at a school in Sutton over ‘nightmare’ parking fines that have been issued in error.

By Richard Silverwood
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 2:23 pm
Croft Primary School on Station Road in Sutton, where mums, dads and grandads have been handed parking fines by the owners of a nearby car park.

They use the car park at The Broad Centre retail park in the mornings to drop off their children for the nearby Croft Primary School on Station Road.

And after leaving to go home or to work, they return in the afternoon to pick them up at the end of the school day. In a congested part of town, it is a safe and convenient spot.

The car park is free for two hours, but the mums and dads are being landed with fines for being there all day because its CCTV cameras are registering them only when they arrive in the morning and then leave in the afternoon.

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The car park at The Broad Centre retail park in Sutton.

"We think it must be a glitch in the system,” says mum Sian Henson, who is leading a campaign to get the fines scrapped. “But they won’t acknowledge it.

"It is a nightmare, and I don’t know what to do. I am not paying when I have done nothing wrong.”

Hairdresser Sian, 35, who lives on Farndon Road, Sutton with husband Steven, 37, and their ten-year-old daughter Mya, is fighting two £100 fines she received back in 2018.

After the to-ing and fro-ing of letters and emails between herself, the car park owners and bailiffs, those fines have ballooned to £800 and £450. Now her case is on the brink of being taken to court, where she could be landed with a bill totalling £3,000, including costs.

Mum Sian Henson with her ten-year-old daughter, Mya, whom she drops off and picks up at the car park every school day.

Fellow mum Kim Norman faced a similar plight until the spectre of a court case hanging over her persuaded her to pay up.

And three years ago, Sutton grandad Michael Green was accused of staying in the car park for five hours when he too had simply dropped off his grand-daughter in the morning, left and returned to pick her up later.

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Businessman Michael said: “So many people are bullied into paying the charge. Don’t let people frighten you if you are right.

"My case was eventually scrapped, and I was never given any reason. But I have since heard about two women whose fines have shot up to £1,700 and £2,250 respectively.”

Determined Sian is now considering taking legal advice, and has asked the car park owners for copies of the paperwork relating to her fines.

She said: "The trouble is I have no evidence that I wasn’t there. I chucked away the original letters because I thought they’d obviously got it wrong and would sort it out.

"They sent me photos of me arriving at 8.30 am and leaving at 3.45 pm, but nothing in between. I want them to look for photos of when I left at 8.45 am.

"Mums have raised it at the school. You can’t park in the school grounds, while the surrounding streets either have double-yellow lines or are restricted to residents’ permits.

"Many people are frightened into paying. When I rang the bailiffs, they said: just pay it. But why should I? It’s wrong.”

The car park is owned by Highview Parking, a company based in Hertfordshire that has been recently taken over by GroupNexus, of London, which manages 1,200 sites across the UK.

The Chad has asked GroupNexus for its comments on the controversy.