I paid for parking, but got a £60 notice: Can I challenge this?

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When I parked in a car park in Belfast, I paid, but I have received a parking charge notice stating that I didn’t, and fining me £60. Do I have to pay this?

A. Check the type of parking ticket, as how to appeal will be different depending on who the letter is from. Your parking ticket or letter will say if it’s from Transport NI, the police, or a parking company. If it is not from a parking company, please contact your local CAB so as they can advise further.

To appeal a parking charge notice:

1. Check if a parking company is an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) member. Check on the British Parking Association (BPA) or International Parking Community (IPC) websites, or call the BPA on 01444 447 300. Calls to this number can cost up to 12p a minute from a landline, or between 8p and 40p a minute from a mobile.

Don’t pay a parking ticket from a company that’s not an ATA member. They can’t take you to court, because they can’t get your details from the DVLA. They can only chase you for a parking ticket if you give them your address, so don’t contact them. If you get a ticket in the post from a non-ATA member, report them to Action Fraud, because the company could have got your details illegally.

2. Contact the parking company, if they’re an ATA member. You can find their contact details on the BPA or IPC websites, or on the parking charge notice.

Check on the notice if you must appeal on the company’s website, or if you can write to them with your reasons for objecting. Appealing directly to the parking company is called making an informal appeal, and you must do this before you make a formal appeal. There are template letters on the Citizens Advice website.

Include any evidence you have, such as a valid pay-and-display ticket; photos of signs that are hard to see or understand, or where the information is misleading; a letter from someone who was with you saying what happened (write ‘Witness statement’ at the top of this); a repair note, if your car broke down. For a hospital parking ticket, send evidence to the parking company if your appointment ran late. Ask the hospital receptionist to print a note on headed paper, saying there were delays. If you are appealing the parking ticket, it is advisable not to pay this. Usually, paying is seen as admitting the ticket was right. If you’re worried about not paying, call whoever gave you the ticket and ask them to confirm that you shouldn’t pay if you’re appealing.

3. If you have exhausted all avenues with the company’s internal complaints and appeals process you can take a formal complaint to their trade association. This only applies to firms in the BPA Approved Operator Scheme or the IPC Independent Appeals Service. If the independent adjudicator agrees with you, the charge will be cancelled; if the appeal is refused, the company can carry on seeking payment and has the option of taking you to small claims court.

Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest CAB at www.citizensadvice.co.uk or go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland