An Athena ANPR sign
This Athena ANPR sign from March 2014, attempts to claim that parking is free for up to one hour, but beyond one hour you are agreeing to a contractual sum of £90. However, it is not a contractually agreed sum, for the following reasons:
1. If this charge was a contractually agreed fee the sign should been worded to offer various durations of parking at various costs. This could equally apply for an additional 10 minutes, 10 weeks or indeed 10 years. So, this cannot be considered to be a genuine offer by Athena ANPR Ltd to park.
2. There was no VAT invoice supplied.
3. There is no mechanism to pay for additional parking
4. The same sum is also sought for returning to the car park within 2 hours, something clearly disallowed by the wording “No return within 2 hours … “, which is immediately followed by “or charge of £90 will apply” – in other words “don’t do this or else” which shows the charges are actually for failing to comply, which means it is a deterrent for breach rather than a contractually agreed sum.
Athena ANPR – my story
Sheona Naismith is a regular shopper at Lidl’s South Ward Road store. One on particular day, she parked in the car park managed by Athena ANPR Ltd and did 20 minutes of shopping inside the store. She was surprised a week later to recevie in the mail a letter that was headed “charge certificate”, “civil parking charge notice” and “parking contravention”. The letter was addressed to the registered keeper (i.e. a notice to keeper or “ntk”). The letter was asking for payment of £90. The letter from Athena ANPR Ltd included a CCTV screenshot of the family car entering and leaving the car park and a penalty notice saying the allotted time for parking was just 10 minutes, which she had exceeded by 10 minutes. Lidl have a process whereby the register operator is mean to ask each shopper for their vehicle registration which they enter in their system, thus giving them one hour of parking, instaead of the default 10 minutes. But on this day, she was not asked for her registration. When Sheona spoke to Lidl mangement about the Athena ANPR parking charge notice, they told her to make her appeal to Athena ANPR Ltd and explain to them she was a shopper at the store on the day she incurred the PCN. They (the management) added that “Athena ANPR Ltd will require proof of purchase to cancel the charge and will be able to advise on what is considered an acceptable proof of purchase.”. The also went on to explain that non customers are limited to 10minutes of parking, whereas customers who have had their registration entered into the system at checkout have up to one hour of free parking.