Granddad ‘devastated’ after being hit with a £272.55 fine over 50p parking debt
A granddad says he has been left “financially devastated” after being hit with a County Court Judgement – over a 50p parking debt.
Clive Sowerby, 77, who is also a former magistrate, has refused to pay hundreds of pounds in fines to a private parking firm over the discrepancy.
He has now been served with a County Court Judgement (CCJ) which has wrecked his chance of applying for a loan to expand the shoe shop business he has run for 50 years.
Clive, who has two grown-up children and three grandchildren, also fears the black mark on his credit score will delay his retirement plans and affect how much he can leave to his family in his will.
His “nightmare” started in October 2019, when he put £4 in a pay and display machine, not realising the cost had just been put up to £4.50.
Weeks later he was hit with a £60 fine from Premier Parking Logistics who run the car park in Crown Lane, Stourbridge, West Midlands.
Clive wrote to the firm, explaining his mistake but when he received a reply, the fine had gone up to £160.
He wrote to the company again and when he didn’t receive a response, he believed the issue had been resolved.
But in January this year he was informed that the case had gone to court, and that he had been issued with a CCJ with the fine going up to £272.55.
During the lockdown, Clive’s shoe shop had been closed while he and his wife shielded but unbeknown to him, the parking firm had been sending letters to that address.
Clive, who was a magistrate for 22 years and now cares for his wife Helen who is recovering from cancer and Covid-19, is refusing to pay.
He said: “It’s financially devastating for us and leaves a mark over our heads.
“In any financial negotiation with the bank I’ll have a hand tied behind my bank – all over a shortfall of 50p.
“I’m considering applying for a loan to expand our website business, but they’ll see the County Court Judgement then.
“I was hoping to retire from the business next year, but this has thrown things up in the air.
“A CCJ at my time of life is grossly unfair. That’s going to dramatically affect me for anything I might want to do financially in the future.
“My wife was in tears when she found out saying, ‘this would not have happened if I didn’t have Leukaemia and Covid, it’s my fault’. What can you say to that? It was heartbreaking.”
Despite repeatedly writing to the parking firm to explain his circumstances, Clive said his reasoning fell on deaf ears.
Premier Parking Logistics say the initial charge was issued for an expired ticket on October 14, 2019, and that parking charges had increased months earlier.
A spokesperson said people had 14 days to pay a parking charge notice and 21 days to appeal, adding: “He [Mr Sowerby] never responded or sent an appeal to say this was an oversight.”
The spokesperson said if there had been some dialogue in “the same week or same day we would have looked at it” but not months later.
Stourbridge MP Suzanne Webb has also written to the firm.
She said: “Unfortunately, the company said it could not lower the penalty because the time to appeal had expired and the debt had been transferred to a debt collection agency.”