Sunday, 12 November 2017

Smart Parking - a further update about the Oastler Road car park situation in Saltaire

Smart Parking, as is now widely known, are unlawfully operating a car park on public highway on Oastler Road near Saltaire.

The Council has served a formal notice that Smart Parking has until 30 November to remove their ticketing machines, signs and ANPR cameras, or the Council will do so on their behalf. This equipment is an obstruction to the highway AND the company failed to secure planning consent for it all in the first place!

I have been in correspondence with Ben Johnson, the Director and CEO of Smart Parking in the UK. He has refused to refund local residents who have been ticketed or to explore the possibility of compensating local businesses for lost revenue. Moreover, the ticketing machines (and presumably the cameras) have not yet been switched off.

Here in full is MY reply to his letter to me.

Dear Mr Johnson,

Many thanks for your letter of 26 October and the responses it contained to my earlier correspondence with you (attached). I appreciate your reply.

There is much here that we clearly disagree about in terms of the way in which your company operates car parks like the one at Oastler Road.

For us, though, the key point is this. The clear advice that we, as ward councillors, have received from the Council’s officers is that your company has no legal right to operate a car park on this site due to the fact that it is vested as public highway. This is why Smart Parking was served with a formal notice by Bradford Council giving you until 30 November to remove all of your machines, signs and ANPR cameras from the site.

In addition, your company’s recent application for planning consent for those charging machines, signs and ANPR cameras is effectively an admission that Smart Parking did not secure the necessary planning permission for erecting all this equipment in the first place.

It seems to us that the reasonable, responsible, professional and ethical course of action would be for Smart Parking to (a) immediately cease unlawfully charging fees for people to park their vehicles there; and (b) refund everyone who has been unlawfully charged and penalised to date.

In contrast, I was astonished to find that on Saturday at least one of the two charging machines was fully operational and that people are still paying your company to park at this location. These machines should have been switched off as soon as you received notice from the Council that the car park is illegal. In addition, in the attached letter, you refuse to consider refunding the people who have been charged and penalised by your company.

Given the way in which Smart Parking have managed this care park to date, and continues to do so in the face of clear advice that your actions are unlawful and despite the financial cost to local residents and businesses, I have to reluctantly advise you that Hawarun and I will do our best to block planning consent (Martin cannot take a position on that due to his membership of one of the committees) and all three of us will do our best to ensure that your equipment is removed as quickly as possible after the deadline of 30 November expires.

We will also encourage our residents to take court action to secure the refunds to which they are entitled, both individually and via social media.

All of this is a great shame for us all. Your company (and Saltaire Investments Ltd) could have worked with the Council from the outset to ensure that the operation of a private car park at this location was legal. You could also have adopted a different business model that would have enabled you to make a profit (nothing wrong with that) without imposing extortionate penalties on residents for minor infringements of the parking arrangements (one consequence of which is a fall-off in trade for local shops that has, for example, reportedly cost the Coop £8,000 per week).

Bearing the above in mind, I am copying in Mr Liam Jarman from West Yorkshire Trading Standards and Mr Steve Clark from the British Parking Association, along with our legal colleagues.

I very much hope that this situation prompts you to comprehensively review this matter in order to reach a solution that meets the needs of the whole community.



Cllr Kevin Warnes

Green Party Councillor for Shipley

Bradford Council

Finally, all residents who have been fleeced by Smart Parking should write to the Parking Ombudsman to seek redress: If that fails, take your claim to court. You can register your claim on the government website in 30 minutes ( and the cost will be £25 (which you can hopefully also get back).

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