A CAR PARK management company has been accused of bullying tactics after a couple were stung with a £170 fine. 

Mr and Mrs Gane from Cinderford were initially given a £100 fine from Ocean Parking in December 2023, for allegedly breaching the terms of the parking agreement in the Peel Centre car park, Gloucester. 

They were told the amount would be reduced to £60 if it was paid in 14 days.

Ocean Parking claimed that the couple had left the site, as witnessed by a parking marshall, on December 12, 2023, which is a breach of the terms issued via warning signs in the car park, known as “abused patron parking”.

However, the couple believed this to be incorrect and appealed. The couple said they did some Christmas shopping on the site and have a receipt with a timestamp to prove their location. 

They also said that by the time Ocean Parking had replied to their appeal, they had missed the time frame to take the matter further to POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals). The matter escalated to a debt recovery service who demanded £170. 

Mrs Gane said: “My husband sent them a letter and an email, but they refused to listen to our appeal and called us liars. They aren’t willing to prove we left the site. We can’t prove we didn’t either, but we have evidence of a receipt. So I don’t understand.

“Like Mr Bates says in the Post Office programme, we’re just ‘skint little people’ fighting this big company and they don’t care about anybody else - they just want to get their money.”

Mrs Gane believed the couple were forced into paying the fine despite not agreeing with it, as it could affect their livelihood. She said: “My husband started a company, so if we went to court and we had any CCJs against us, then that would affect our company - so we HAD to pay it.

“I sent an email saying that although we paid the fine, under no circumstances are we admitting fault. They haven’t replied, they’ve just taken the money.

“I don’t think they should get away with it. Bullying people into paying. I think if they had a pay-to-park system instead it might help.”

The couple decided to take the matter to their local councillor, Matt Bishop, a Labour member for Cinderford East on the Forest Council.”.

He said: “I spoke to several departments at Ocean Parking, contacted their senior management and the owners of the Peel Centre Car Park. 

“All responses have been dismissive and extremely poor. Each response received has said that Mr and Mrs Gane should have gone to POPLA and do not accept their defence anyway.

“My concerns around this company include, what I perceive to be, bullying vehicle owners into paying these fines and not accepting genuine evidence. They use these tactics to, in effect, force innocent vehicle owners to pay or face legal action. 

“Mr and Mrs Gane have felt under pressure and paid the fine, under protest, without admitting any guilt, and made this clear to the debt company and Ocean Parking. 

“We would have liked to have made a counter claim through the courts, but this comes at a cost, which many vehicle owners simply are unable to afford during the current cost of living crisis.”

The Forester previously reported that motorists were being stung with fines by the car park management company.

Ocean Parking were contacted for comment but have not responded.