Published: 06:00, 13 September 2021
| Updated: 07:13, 13 September 2021
Drivers who use a motorway service station as a cut-through are fighting back over what they claim are greedy and unfairly issued parking tickets.
In the latest legal battle, Phil Gent from Rochester was summoned to court after refusing to pay a fine for allegedly parking at the Moto Services station at Junction 4 of the M2 near Rainham.
He argued that he hadn't parked at all, but that his car - driven by his wife - had been picked up on service station cameras when she left the motorway to visit her mother in Hartlip and rejoined the M2 three-and-half hours later, back in 2018.
But he says his claims fell on deaf ears, and accused parking bosses of pursuing a process of intimidation while ignoring his efforts to reason with them.
That was until this week, when the Moto Services and parking firm CP Plus - part of Group Nexus - confirmed they would overturn the fine after being asked to comment on the situation.
Mr Gent, 52, welcomed the decision but said the whole process had caused months of stress and been a waste of time and effort for all concerned.
"It just gets on my nerves," he said. "For two years they sent details to the wrong address, and finally they sent me tickets saying you haven't responded. It seemed like they found my address when it got past the point you can contest it.
"I've explained what happened but it's just 'give us the money'. It surprised me that they were actually pursuing it.
"They're not listening to reason - it's purely about the cash-grab.
"It started around £30, but by the time I got the fine it was up to £170, and then before court it was at £270."
Mr Gent is not the first resident to successfully appeal fines for driving through the services - and others continue to report similar cases on social media.
In 2018 Rainham woman Toni Bates also fought back after CP Plus accused her of parking overnight, and she spoke out to warn fellow residents of the tactic.
And Mr Gent was preparing to use her case as part of his defence in court, until this week when the legal case was dropped.
But despite dropping the cases, Moto Services say parking fines will continue to be issued for drivers using what they say is a private road between the service station and nearby roads.
A statement from Moto Services said: "As a gesture of goodwill we have cancelled the parking charge notice issued to Mr Gent and asked Group Nexus to drop any legal action it has launched against him.
"We would remind drivers that the service road at our Medway site is only meant to provide access to the service area for authorised and emergency vehicles and is not a short cut for local residents. Regrettably, any unauthorised vehicles that use the road will face a parking charge for doing so."
A statement from Group Nexus, owners of CP Plus, added: "Regarding Phillip Gent we have been back through our records and have never received any correspondence from him regarding this PCN. However, as a gesture of good will, we have decided to cancel this PCN."
Mr Gent insisted he had contacted the firm a number of times, adding: "I'm pleased they've changed their mind, but it's a shame it's taken this amount of effort. They were still going to pursue me.
"I emailed them lots of times and was getting responses. The last letter they said I hadn't told them who was driving. I replied saying I have - I'd sent a letter.
"It's just a process of intimidation. It's scary for people, and I can see why most people just cough up and it's a lot easier."