Parking ticket system suspended after BBC investigation

CCTV footage showing Peter Ahmed taking a photo of Kelly Venables' car
Image caption CCTV footage exposed the case of one operator putting up temporary signs before issuing parking tickets

A firm has suspended its self-ticketing parking charge operation, after an investigation by BBC Wales.

It followed footage broadcast by the X-Ray programme showing a sign being put behind a parked car in Cardiff, so a £100 charge ticket could be issued.

Peter Ahmed had issued the ticket through the system operated by UK Car Park Management Ltd (UKCPM).

UKCPM cancelled the charge and industry trade body IPC said the firm had halted self-ticketing across the country.

The self-ticketing scheme allows a landowner or agent who signs a code of conduct to use an app on their phone to send details of illegally parked cars.

The firm obtains the owners' details from the DVLA and issues a parking charge to the driver, and the agent gets £10 for every ticket they issue.

After the original report on X-Ray, both UKCPM and Mr Ahmed had insisted it was an isolated incident involving the Curran Embankment site, near the city centre.

But the programme has since been approached by a number of other people who say they have had very similar experiences.

Last year, Gary Mackenzie got three parking charges from UKCPM in the space of a week. He had also parked on Curran Embankment after checking there were no signs to tell him he could not.

He said: "Ten days later a letter dropped through the door with a parking charge with a clear photograph of the car with a sign in the background, one of UKCPM's signs, which was never there."

Image caption Gary Mackenzie was landed with three parking tickets in one week

He then took photos showing there were no signs where he had parked, to help his appeal.

Mr Mackenzie said: "It just got rejected because the fact that they saw a sign on there on the picture."

In another case, apprentice mechanic Ash Barbour parked in a car park near Cardiff and Vale College in December last year. He took a photo of his car when he parked to show there were no signs there.

But days later he received a parking charge notice in the post. On it there was a photo showing a no-parking sign by his car.

Image caption Apprentice Ash Barbour said he was parked in a completely different street to the one on the parking ticket

The ticket also claimed the infringement happened on Curran Embankment - however, Mr Barbour's car was parked a third of a mile away, on Dumballs Road.

He said UKCPM initially rejected his appeal against the charge.

"With the photos I've taken to prove that there was no parking signs, you know you'd think that would be enough evidence," he said.

"But as soon as it came back they wanted me to prove with video evidence that their operator was in the wrong."

It was only after he threatened legal action that UKCPM cancelled his parking charge.

In 2017, Hannah Bishop received two parking charges after parking in her office car park on Curran Road - even though she had a permit.

She said: "I was kind of confused as to why I was the only one who had received it when we all put permits in, we all have parked there and I'd worked there for about three years at that point."

Image caption Hannah Bishop is still in a legal battle with UKCPM over her parking charge bill

The parking charge from UKCPM - issued by Peter Ahmed - claimed she hadn't actually parked outside her office, but at Curran Embankment.

Ms Bishop said: "The address of my workplace is Curran Road but they're saying I was parked on Curran Embankment, which is a completely different area. They're saying that I'm confused now. That I'm confused about where I was parking."

She is still fighting UKCPM in the courts to try to clear her name.

X-Ray put these additional cases to Peter Ahmed, UKCPM and the IPC.

Lawyers for Mr Ahmed said he was unable to respond because of a serious medical condition.

But the IPC have taken action following X-Ray's investigation.

They have called all their self-ticketing members to a meeting to look at how to improve regulation, and they said UKCPM have now stopped all their self-ticketing across the country until the IPC tells them they can continue.

They also said UKCPM were cancelling many of the outstanding parking tickets issued by Mr Ahmed.

You can see more on the story on X-Ray on BBC One Wales on Monday, 1 April at 19:30 BST or catch up on the BBC iPlayer.

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