HUNDREDS of motorists may have paid out thousands of pounds after wrongly being slapped with fines at a Southampton car park.
It comes after two Hampshire women won their fight against a well known parking firm who targeted them at a large city store.
Now their success in overturning a ticket at The Range has led a Hampshire MP to say the “floodgates” have been opened to hundreds of motorists who have been hit with £100 fines at the store.
Christine Lemon and Sue Harris were taken to court by enforcement firm ParkingEye Ltd after the company claimed they had overstayed their time at the store in Shirley.
But a judge ruled against ParkingEye after its solicitor was unable to produce a contract showing it had the power to hand over fines.
The firm insists it does have a contract but was again unable to provide proof when asked by the Daily Echo.
ParkingEye hit the news in 2012 when we revealed dozens of people were hit with fines at a car park at Town Quay after the firm operated spy cameras.
But the outraged motorists who spoke to the Daily Echo said they did not know they were being photographed, and that there was no clear indication that their time in the car park started from the moment they drove in, and not when they bought their ticket.
Friends Christine and Sue visited The Range in Winchester Road on October 26, 2012 for a catch-up, but were shocked when they received fine letters through the post several weeks later.
The letters said they had overstayed the two hours’ free parking at the store by 53 minutes and would have to pay £100, or £60 within 14 days. But they disputed the fine, saying they had not seen signs spelling out the policy, and ParkingEye’s case was dismissed at Southampton County Court.
Although the company’s lawyer produced a contract to manage the site from February 8, 2013 onwards, he was unable to show one covering the two years prior that the firm had run the car park.
Now Christine and Sue are calling on customers who received fines at The Range car park before February 9, 2013 to challenge the firm and get their money back.
Christine, 65, of Sylvia Crescent in Totton, said: “Both Sue and I are absolutely delighted at the outcome of our hearing. It proves that we were totally right to force ParkingEye to take us to court.
“However, I also feel angry that this private parking company has been taking money unlawfully for two years from other shoppers at The Range in Shirley.”
Sue, 54, from Poppy Close in Locks Heath, said: “As a result of our success in court, we would like everyone who has fallen victim to the huge parking charges imposed by ParkingEye, in conjunction with The Range, to claim the money back.”
Christine’s MP, Julian Lewis, pictred below, who represents New Forest East said: “I think the court ruling shows the slipshod nature of arrangements between ParkingEye and The Range.
“It would open the floodgates to other people challenging parking fines from before February 2013.”
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is investigating the matter, and says it may not release vehicle keeper details to ParkingEye if Chris and Sue’s suspicions are founded.
A spokesman for ParkingEye said: “Parking Eye is a member of the British Parking Association's approved operator scheme.
“Parking Eye’s contract with The Range, Southampton, has an effective date from before the incident in question and so it would therefore be incorrect to say the contract did not exist.”
The Range declined to comment.