Celebrity lawyer ‘Mr Loophole’ has come to the aid of angry shoppers who claim they were wrongly fined £70 for parking at their local Aldi store.

Solicitor Nick Freeman – famed for getting wealthy celebrities off motoring offences – has backed the shoppers and called for their fines to be waived.

The row started when shoppers visiting a new store at Chapel Allerton, Leeds, West Yorks, found themselves being issued with fines.

They were told that an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera had caught them parking over the hour-and-a-half limit.

However, it has since emerged that planning permission for the camera was only applied for in October, six months after it was erected, and has not yet been approved.

Mr Freeman, who recently helped David Beckham avoid a speeding prosecution, said anyone hit by a fine should contact the issuer "immediately" asking for it to be waived or refunded.

He said: "All the fines, in my opinion, are invalid.

"They should ask them straight away and say, ‘I want the money back within seven days and, if not, I shall start proceedings in the small claims court."

One customer stung by the charge is mother-of-three Jane Klugerman.

She received a letter saying she risked having to pay £70 after overstaying the maximum hour and a half limit by just ten minutes on November 26.

Mrs Klugerman was helping her friend Karen Williams do her shopping, who has to carry out activities slowly because of disabilities when she went over the maximum stay.

The £70 fine – which reduces to £40 if paid within a certain time frame – was sent to Mrs Klugerman by private company ParkingEye.

Mrs Klugerman, who sells women’s accessories at trade shows, has refused to pay and has submitted a formal complaint to Aldi.

She said: "First of all, I’m absolutely amazed they would deter genuine visitors from the store who are spending money, especially at this time of year.

"I’m more aggrieved they have been using this [camera] since the store opened, and haven’t had permission.

"It seems they rely on people being suitably scared to pay the money quickly."

By chance, her husband had seen the retrospective planning application to Leeds City Council.

Mrs Klugerman, of Shadwell Lane in Alwoodley, said: "I visit the store quite regularly and have done since they started opening.

"On November 26 I seemingly outstayed my welcome by 10 or 15 minutes.

"On December 4, I received a demand for a parking charge from their ANPR machine.

"By coincidence, on the same evening my husband was reading the planning permissions and there it was – it was saying that this for ANPR machine they haven’t got permission."

The supermarket chain, which is now seeking consent retrospectively, insists the fines still stand – a position backed by an ombudsman.

An Aldi spokesperson said: "On this occasion, we have been asked by the local authority to apply for planning permission regarding equipment on our site retrospectively.

"This in no way affects the enforceability of any charges issued prior to or after the application being made."

Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA), which oversees appeals against charges issued by ParkingEye, has poured cold water on motorists’ chances.

A spokesman for the ombudsman service said: "When considering an appeal we look at whether a parking contract was formed and whether the motorist kept to that contract.

"If the evidence (normally ANPR camera evidence) shows that the motorist was on site without keeping to the parking conditions, it is likely that we would determine that the parking charge was valid and refuse the appeal.

"The courts take the same approach when considering the validity of parking charges.

"If ANPR cameras are installed without planning permission, this would be an issue for the local council.

"The absence of planning permission would not affect the motorist’s ability to understand and keep to the parking conditions.

"The motorist would still have entered into a parking contract.

"Therefore, this would not affect our decision on whether the parking charge was valid."

It’s not the first time the German supermarket chain has refuted claims that customers will now be able to challenge their £70 penalty notices.

Paul Maynard, the MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, was in 2016 contacted regarding a number of complaints about an Aldi store in Cleveleys, Lancs., car park’s cameras.

Read More

Top news stories from Mirror Online

  • Paedo cop raped girl and groomed others
  • England’s worst primary schools revealed
  • Dad’s body ballooned like Popeye
  • Starved boy locked in Harry Potter room

Source: Read Full Article