Thursday, 29 Jul 2021

Fuming grandad ‘financially devastated’ by huge court bill over 50p parking debt

A 77-year-old man has been caught in a "nightmare" after refusing to pay hundreds of pounds to a private parking firm.

Clive Sowerby, 77, has refused to pay the fines he was issued after putting £4 in a pay and display machine, not realising he had to pay £4.50.

He says the 50p mistake led to him being served a County Court Judgement which has destroyed his chances of applying for a loan to expand his shoe business which he's run for 50 years.

The angry grandad, who has two grown-up children and three grandchildren, says he's worried his damaged credit score will disrupt his retirement plans and change how much he can leave his family in his will.

After the pay and display mishap, Clive received a £60 fine from Premier Parking Logistics who ran the car park in Stourbridge, West Midlands.

Clive claims to have written to the firm explaining his mistake but by the time he got a reply the fine had increased to £160.

The 77-year-old wrote to the company again and says he believed the issue had been resolved after not receiving a reply.

But the grandad was shocked when he was informed the case had been taken to court and he had been issued with a CCJ as the fine now stood at £272.55.

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Throughout lockdown Clive's shoe shop had to close while he and his wife shielded – he was unaware that the parking firm had been sending letters to that address.

Mr Sowerby, who was a magistrate for 22 years, sustains that he is refusing to pay the fine.

"It's financially devastating for us and leaves a mark over our heads," Clive said.

"In any financial negotiation with the bank I'll have a hand tied behind my bank – all over a shortfall of 50p.

"I was hoping to retire from the business next year but this has thrown things up in the air.

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"A CCJ at my time of life is grossly unfair."

Clive is currently caring for his wife Helen who is recovering from cancer and Covid-19.

He added: "I'm not a dishonest person but I'll certainly stand up for what is right.

"All this for the transgression of a 50p parking charge. There's so much unfairness about this.

"A big issue also is with the court having issued this when we were in mandatory lockdown. Nobody should be receiving CCJs in lockdown.

"My wife was in tears when she found out saying 'this would not have happened if I didn't have Leukaemia and Covid, it's my fault.' What can you say to that? It was heartbreaking."

Premier Parking Logistics say the initial charge was issued for an expired ticket on October 14, 2019, and he said parking charges had increased months earlier.

A spokesperson said people have 14 days to pay a parking charge notice and 21 days to appeal, adding: "He [Mr Sowerby] never responded or sent an appeal to say this was an oversight."

The spokesperson said if there had been some dialogue in "the same week or same day we would have looked at it" but not months later.

He added he was "chasing old debts" and he said heard "excuses galore" from people trying to get out of paying a parking fine, adding: "It's the same old story."

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