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Couple receive parking charge after being stuck in jam in Ashford Retail Park

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A woman has revealed her outrage after being presented with a £100 parking charge after traffic left her stuck in a car park in Ashford.

Clara Boot, from Sittingbourne, received the notice from Highview Parking after immobile traffic forced her to spend an extra 3 hours in the car park in Ashford Retail Park.

Clara Boot is fighting a parking charge after huge queues in the Ashford Retail Park car park
Clara Boot is fighting a parking charge after huge queues in the Ashford Retail Park car park

The delay, caused by an enormous build up of traffic in the area on Black Friday, meant that sensors picked her car up leaving almost 5 hours after it came in.

Ms Boot said: "It was a shambles, and even though it was definitely caused by traffic outside of the car park, there was no way I could get my car out before three hours was up.

"I was effectively inprisoned in the car park for that time, it was a dreadful ordeal and I'm sure all of the people around me felt the same way."

A short time later, Ms Boot was incensed to see a Parking Charge Notice come through the letter box with a £100 fine, reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.

She immediately appealed the decision to Highview Parking, explaining the circumstances.

"This vehicle does not have wings, nor does it have the ability to levitate..."

She explained: "The letter was pretty long, and there was a fair bit of legal terminology that I used, it could even have come across as condescending but I certainly didn't mean it like that.

"I explained how the contract between myself as the driver and the owner of the car park was voided because I was physically unable to leave in the allotted time."

An excerpt from the appeal letter goes on to say: "I drive a mini cooper on a 2003 plate.

"This vehicle does not have wings, nor does it have the ability to levitate much to my dismay, therefore I was forced to sit in the traffic and wait my turn to be able to exit the car park.

"This took me over the designated time allowed within the car park which I would deem as extenuating circumstances rather than disobedience leading to breach of contract."

Ashford Retail Park. Picture: Andy Jones
Ashford Retail Park. Picture: Andy Jones

Highview Parking, which is a part of Group Nexus, responded to say that the appeal had been rejected.

In their response, they said: "Clear signs at the entrance of this site and throughout inform drivers of the 3 hours maximum stay at this site, and it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that they allow enough time to remove their vehicle from the premises within this time limit.

"In light of this, on this occasion, your representations have been carefully considered and rejected.

"We can confirm that we will hold the charge at the current rate of £60.00 for a further 14 days from the date of this correspondence."

Ms Boot said: "I was gobsmacked. Based on my appeal letter, they had absolutely no right in my view to reject it and ask for the money.

Traffic across Ashford was held up on Black Friday (26263346)
Traffic across Ashford was held up on Black Friday (26263346)

"Even in the photo they provide of my car leaving, you can clearly see the traffic is absolutely bumper to bumper - they quite literally sent proof of why the charge should have been overturned.

"Their rejection of the appeal and the wording they used makes it pretty clear to me that they didn't even bother to read what I actually wrote.

"I haven't even been able to talk to a real person, it's all automated over the phone or done via email.

"They [Highview Parking] are simply revenue collectors and have no compassion for human beings."

Group Nexus has been contacted for comment.

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