Store's fine mess over cameras
Five years of parking fines issued by a superstore have been called into question after it was revealed the company had no planning permission for number plate recognition cameras.
Aldi and partner Parking Eye has been operating the ANPR devices in Cleveleys for five years – but only applied for their installation last month.
Now one MP is questioning the legality of fines issued since 2011.
Aldi has refuted any suggestion customers may be able to challenge the £70 penalty notices.
But Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard believes the German chain and Parking Eye, which manages its car parks, may have a case to answer.
He has been contacted with complaints about the Crescent West store car park.
He said: “I’m sure there will be many people who agree that the fines they have had to pay out have been too steep.
“But now it seems they might not have technically been legal. I’m sure the matter will, at some point, be heard before a court.”
The company’s failure to gain permission for the cameras was spotted by Mike Pollard from Thornton.
Mr Pollard told Wyre Council and contacted his MP Ben Wallace over the issue.
He said: “I’d seen these kind of cases coming up.
“I kept on, speaking to my MP and to Aldi head office and eventually we’ve reached the point where they have had to apply for permission.
“I know there have been people who have tried to bring test cases but the car park operators have pulled out.
“If they lose a precedent will be set. But it will come.”
Wyre MP Ben Wallace said: “I highlighted the planning concerns in relation to the car park to Wyre Council as the planning authority. I am pleased to see that an application for retrospective planning permission has now been made.” A decision on the retrospective application is expected in June.
Wyre Council contacted Aldi on August 11 about an alleged breach of planning control at the Crescent West store, documents seen by The Gazette show.
The firm responded on March 31 this year applying for retrospective permission for the cameras which, according to planning documents, were installed in January 2011.
Aldi has hit back, insisting there was no case for drivers to claim their cash back.
An spokesman 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 the application being made.”
But County Coun Andrea Kay, who represents Cleveleys North, backed residents.
She said: “In the store they have always been very good and gone out of their way to cancel wrongly-issued tickets.
“But if they didn’t have permission for the cameras how can they ask for the money?
“They should not be able to enforce the fines.”