Article by Alasdair Hooper: A Billericay engineer says he was fined £160 for overstaying his time in his gym's car park by just 11 seconds.
Ibrahim Awara, 26, received two parking fines on June 3 and June 11 for overstaying the two hour free limit in the car park at the Pure Gym in Billericay, located on Radford Way.
Each fine was worth £160, totalling up to £320, but Pure Gym members are allowed to extend their free parking by entering their car registration on a tablet device inside the gym.
While Pure Gym operate the gym, the responsibility of the car park is outsourced to private company Smart Parking.
However, while Ibrahim admits he was “not without mistake”, he believes that he only overstayed on his first offence by 11 seconds.
In reality the total time he spent in the car park on June 3 was two hours, 10 minutes and 11 seconds but in 2015, the British Parking Association ordered its members to introduce a 10-minute grace period before penalising motorists for overstaying in a private car park.
On the day the second parking infringement was committed, Ibrahim says that the tablet inside the gym was not working for him to put his registration in.
In the end he was in the car park for two hours and 35 minutes on June 11.
When the parking charges were issued by Smart Parking, there was a 28-day appeal stage but Ibrahim was unaware he had actually been charged as he went on holiday and didn’t arrive back in the UK until July 1.
As a result, by the time he was made aware of the £320 fine, the appeal stage had passed.
“My situation is that after I got the fines, I went on holiday for 17 days. When I got back I was unaware of the charges and I got a letter from the debt collector. First of all I thought it was a scam because there was no indication it was Pure Gym and it just said that the client was Smart Parking.”
“I contacted Pure Gym and thought in my naivety this should be quite easy to resolve because I am a member. What was frustrating from my mind is this situation where, as an honest member of the gym, I am in a situation where I am being asked for large sums of money. If the true motive of the parking was to protect members then surely there should be a system? There should be a reliable system used if members are at the gym for longer than two hours.”
After spending July trying to fight the penalty charges issued to him, Ibrahim has now been set a deadline of August 8 to pay by the debt collector. However, he also says he has had very little correspondence from Smart Parking throughout.
“I feel like I am conducting the situation quite well and I am getting these blank responses. I feel like my hands are incredibly tied. The parking charges have been upheld"
In response, a spokesman from Smart Parking said:
"Smart Parking manages the parking at the Pure Gym in Billericay so that users always have a safe and free place to park. Parking is automatically free for the first two hours and thereafter users can enter their registration on provided tablets to extend their stay without charge. This is explained on signage and at the front desk. In this case, Mr Awara overstayed the two hour free parking period on two occasions and did not use the provided tablets to extend his stay. As such the parking charges have been upheld."
Pure Gym confirmed they have an arrangement with Smart Parking allowing Pure Gym members to use the car park free for two hours and longer if they register their details inside the gym. They also said that the iPad to register a vehicle is easily located and has never had any downtime since its instillation.
A Pure Gym spokesperson said:
“Members of our Billericay gym can park free of charge for two hours in the adjacent car park, or even longer if they register their car details inside the gym. This system has been in place since the beginning of the year and used without issue by members. The car park itself is operated by an independent provider who are responsible for its administration including issuing penalty notices."
Additionally Pure Gym added that they had been in contact with the member seven times since July 24, and responded within a day each time, and that the member was in the gym for less than two hours on both days he received the penalty notices.
Article by Alasdair Hooper, Essex Live