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Vehicle Control Services, Gallagher Retail Park Scunthorpe
Yogi_B
post Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 11:00
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Hello to everyone and I'm hoping for some definitive advice regarding VCS of Sheffield who operate the site at Gallagher Retail park, Scunthorpe adjacent to the ground of Scunthorpe United F.C.

I have received one of their 'invoices' after straying onto the park in a company registered van in December. The circumstances are that at the time I was employed by an agency for a well-known automotive parts company, delivering to clients all over Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and the East Midlands. Instructions had been given to meet one of the clients to drop parts with him near to the retail park, rather than at his business premises, as the parts were needed straight away. On reaching the general area it had been impossible to immediately locate the client and the van was driven onto the retail park with a view to safely stopping in order to contact him by phone and pinpoint him. I was and still am to some degree entirely unfamiliar with the area.

The vehicle was a long wheelbase Sprinter van which is unsuitable to take into most car parks because of its size but as the area in question is a quiet road, bordered both sides by wasteland. Certainly as one enters the retail park, if there were any signs about stopping at the entrance, they were not very noticeable. Furthermore, there was no painted lines on the road surface or kerbs and I believe that any signs asking people not to stop or park are situated on the wasteland adjacent to the road but are not particularly clear. A stop was made within the park, to get out of the van and to make the necessary phone call, but having read the notice I then left the area, two or three minutes later minutes later, as shown by the 'invoice'.

The company received in January an' invoice' from VCS and I informed my manager at the time that this was not a valid notice, such as from the Police or Council, and that she should inform HR to stonewall VCS who had no power to demand the driver's details. Unfortunately, and much to my anger, this advice was not followed and coming back from holiday ten days ago, I found my 'invoice' dated 4th February from VCS, as I was registered as keeper of the vehicle on that day. I might add that since the end of January, my contract with this company expired and I no longer work for them.

Now I'm no expert on all this, which is why I'm asking for advice but from what I can glean from trawling through lots of threads is that VCS are not members of the BPA which means a Popla code is not an option to appeal but they use the not so Independant Appeals Service which are seemingly some kind of kangaroo court. My gut instinct is to totally ignore them and wait for the deluge of junk mail that will inevitably follow but as I believe things have changed somewhat regarding appeals etc, I ask your advice.

I certainly have no intention of paying a penny for a necessary two minute stop on a deserted back street road on a Tuesday lunchtime in December. I can understand that because of the proximity of Scunthorpe United, on match days some kind of restriction on parking might be suitable for this area but even so asking for £100, or £60 if paid quicker, does not represent an accurate charge for parking for two hours, let alone a stop of two minutes as borne out by their ,photographic evidence'.

Your comments and advice are greatly appreciated.

This post has been edited by Yogi_B: Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 14:57
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post Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 11:00
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Albert Ross
post Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 11:30
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An appeal should be made:


As can be seen from your Parking Charge Notification their was no more time taken than to see the conditions of parking, disagree to them and leave. there was no meeting of minds and no acceptance of the contract.
Consequently there is no need and there will be no further appeal and I shall make no payment unless ordered to do so by a Court.



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Yogi_B
post Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 11:47
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QUOTE (Albert Ross @ Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 11:30) *
An appeal should be made:


As can be seen from your Parking Charge Notification their was no more time taken than to see the conditions of parking, disagree to them and leave. there was no meeting of minds and no acceptance of the contract.
Consequently there is no need and there will be no further appeal and I shall make no payment unless ordered to do so by a Court.


Thank you for that. I'm sure that they will continue to try and extract money but if you are certain that it is better to use their 'appeals service' then I have a few days left since the issue of the 'invoice' to lodge an appeal against it. Thanks again.


Just to put the time frame in perspective- there are three photos, the time that elapses between the first and third photo is 39 seconds!

Their 'reason' for the charge, I forgot to put in my original post is 'No stopping/Waiting in Restricted Areas or Roadways'.
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The Slithy Tove
post Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 11:56
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QUOTE (Yogi_B @ Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 11:47) *
Their 'reason' for the charge, I forgot to put in my original post is 'No stopping/Waiting in Restricted Areas or Roadways'.

So by their own admission it wasn't even a Parking event. Did your company tell VCS you were the driver or just the "keeper" at the time. When you appeal to VCS, you do so as the "keeper", not the driver (you were de facto keeper as that's who had booked out the van for the day, it doesn't mean that you were necessarily driving at the time). That still puts them on the spot in terms of keeper liability and POFA (which I would contend they can't use, even if their notices were compliant, as it's not a parking matter). So, you say "the driver stopped briefly to read the signage, and on deciding not to accept the contract offered, departed"
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Yogi_B
post Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 12:38
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QUOTE (The Slithy Tove @ Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 11:56) *
QUOTE (Yogi_B @ Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 11:47) *
Their 'reason' for the charge, I forgot to put in my original post is 'No stopping/Waiting in Restricted Areas or Roadways'.

So by their own admission it wasn't even a Parking event. Did your company tell VCS you were the driver or just the "keeper" at the time. When you appeal to VCS, you do so as the "keeper", not the driver (you were de facto keeper as that's who had booked out the van for the day, it doesn't mean that you were necessarily driving at the time). That still puts them on the spot in terms of keeper liability and POFA (which I would contend they can't use, even if their notices were compliant, as it's not a parking matter). So, you say "the driver stopped briefly to read the signage, and on deciding not to accept the contract offered, departed"


It certainly wasn't a 'parking event' but I think that you can be sure they will fall back on the 'no stopping' aspect.

The vehicle may have stopped albeit briefly the sign, which apart from having a no stopping/ clearway sign at the top, has a load of much smaller writing which was not readable for me personally without getting closer to it. As I mentioned in my original post, there were/are no yellow lines which would give a driver a bit more of a clue as to what the intended message of the operator was. Having read the sign and decided that this was not a suitable place to remain, the van promptly moved on. No stopping zones/ clearways are used by local authorities/ Highways Agency for valid reasons, such as on major trunk roads and in a minority of cases for security reasons (such as adjacent to government buildings) not on some non-descript piece of land in Scunthorpe. They also use large easy to read signs and generally some sort of road marking such as yellow lines or the red ones that you get in London I believe.

This post has been edited by Yogi_B: Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 14:46
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ostell
post Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 13:28
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YOU ARE THE KEEPER FOR THE DAY. That's all VCS have to know. Edit your post to remove any hints about who was driving. You will be appealing as the keeper.

You got out to read the conditions, rejected them and then drove away therefore no contract. You need to check how many conditions they failed to meet in order to hold the keeper. Paragraph 9 of POFA
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nosferatu1001
post Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 19:50
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VCS don't bother to use keeper liability last I saw anyway.
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The Rookie
post Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 20:15
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Which is why it's important not to tell them!


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Yogi_B
post Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 23:51
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QUOTE (ostell @ Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 13:28) *
YOU ARE THE KEEPER FOR THE DAY. That's all VCS have to know. Edit your post to remove any hints about who was driving. You will be appealing as the keeper.

You got out to read the conditions, rejected them and then drove away therefore no contract. You need to check how many conditions they failed to meet in order to hold the keeper. Paragraph 9 of POFA


I'm not sure how the difference between 'keeper for the day' and actual driver affects things here, perhaps you could enlarge on this for me. With regard to checking conditions, I'm not in a position to revisit the area as I live some distance away (50+ miles) and it really isn't an option to go back. With regards to the POFA link, I've scanned the conditions and throughout it mentions parking but no mention of stopping which I believe are two entirely different things. I therefore wonder if they have any right to try and impose charges on anybody for merely stopping on what is just a private road?

QUOTE (nosferatu1001 @ Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 19:50) *
VCS don't bother to use keeper liability last I saw anyway.



QUOTE (The Rookie @ Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 20:15) *
Which is why it's important not to tell them!

Again I'm not sure of the significance of this, perhaps you could enlarge
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ostell
post Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 08:22
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If they don't know the name of the driver they are allowed to claim from the keeper IF they follow the strict requirements of POFA. If they fail then they can no longer go after the keeper but only the driver, who they don't know. VCS will not be privy to the internal workings of your company and so they will not know who the driver was. So got back through your posts and remove any hints about who was driving.

You will be appealing as the keeper (which you were!)
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The Rookie
post Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 08:43
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QUOTE (Yogi_B @ Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 00:51) *
I'm not sure how the difference between 'keeper for the day' and actual driver affects things here

Because they have no valid claim against the keeper, only the driver, if they don't know who the driver is how are they going to take it further?


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SchoolRunMum
post Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 09:52
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QUOTE
I'm not sure how the difference between 'keeper for the day' and actual driver affects things here,


It is VITAL to call yourself the 'keeper' not driver. It is a HUGE difference.

VCS do not use NTKs which can hold anyone liable except the driver - and they do not know who that was. They really do NOT know and have no access to the van's usage records.

Do not furnish them with the missing jigsaw piece. They cannot hold a keeper liable because they do not follow the rquirements of the POFA 2012 Schedule 4 in their letters (NTK).

This post has been edited by SchoolRunMum: Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 09:54
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nosferatu1001
post Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 11:50
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OP - you MUST do some research on your own. You were shown links to POFA2012 -well go read it! It tells you that the KEEPER can be held liable for the drivers actions, but only - ONLY - if they meet STRICT conditions
VCS dont even bother with Keeper liability. They just spout nonsense about the "reasoanble assumption" that the keeper is the driver.
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Yogi_B
post Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 16:38
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Thanks to everyone with their input so far. I have made some edits to my post to reflect that I was the keeper of the vehicle on the day in question.

Again I question whether this or indeed any private company, has the right to impose charges on any vehicle for merely stopping (as opposed to parking) on an area that they monitor, I find it puzzling that they feel themselves able to?

I will trawl through some more of the forum tonight and concoct a letter to them to appeal. I'm assuming that any appeal is based solely on the reason that the vehicle was stopped in the area to examine the terms and conditions, which once had been read it was decided not to enter into a contract with, or should I quote additional things such as the scale of the charge not reflecting an accurate sum of pre-estimate loss by the company.

This post has been edited by Yogi_B: Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 16:40
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nosferatu1001
post Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 16:46
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Theyre not imposing charges

Theyre sending a specualtive invoice, hoping youll pay. ANY company or person can send ANYONE an invoice, claiming a reason to pay. Doesnt mean you have to!

No GPEOL is almsot dead as an argument. Dont bother. Its always crap signage, no standing to offer contracts and the amount is a penalty.

Dont stress too much on a first appeal - newbies thread at Money saving expert. Select the right appeal (only choice is - BPA POPLA or IPC IAS) and send, un-altered.
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ostell
post Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 17:03
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The correct terminology is that you were the keeper on that day. The registered keeper is the entity that is registered at the DVLA as the keeper of the vehicle. You will be appealing as the keeper.

If they continue saying that it is a reasonable assumption that the registered keeper was driving then they will be in toruble. How can a company drive?

This post has been edited by ostell: Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 17:06
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SchoolRunMum
post Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 17:21
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QUOTE (Albert Ross @ Mon, 22 Feb 2016 - 11:30) *
An appeal should be made:

As can be seen from your Parking Charge Notification their was no more time taken than to see the conditions of parking, disagree to them and leave. there was no meeting of minds and no acceptance of the contract.

Consequently there is no need and there will be no further appeal and I shall make no payment unless ordered to do so by a Court.



The above would do nicely as an appeal, especially if you added at the start: 'I am the keeper of this vehicle and this is my appeal...' and at the end:

'I note that your Notice to Keeper PCN) does not invoke keeper liability under the POFA 2012 Schedule 4, so I suggest you take the matter up with the driver or cancel the charge. I will not assist you in that regard and am not liable for any sum at all so cease and desist with all letters and contact from you or your agents except if, taking all the circumstances into account, you feel you have grounds for a claim. If so, I will reasonably expect to receive a fully compliant Letter before Claim within 14 days, together with all of the photographs and other evidence upon which you would rely and of course such a frivolous claim would be robustly defended.

Otherwise, by 10th March 2016 if I receive nothing more then the matter is closed and the charge considered quite rightly cancelled, due to VCS failing to overcome the above significant hurdles of lack of contract and lack of keeper liability, neither of which are in any way saved by the decision in ParkingEye v Beavis.
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Yogi_B
post Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 19:26
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Dear VCS

Re PCN number:

As the keeper of the vehicle on the day in question I am not ignoring your charge for an alleged parking infraction but pointing out that the PCN amounts to an invoice for supposed breach of contract. The photographic evidence on the PCN shows that there was no more time taken than to read the conditions of a board situated on adjacent land, disagree with them and promptly leave the area; in other words no contract was made with you.

I therefore now consider this matter closed, and as such do not expect any further contact from your company other than confirmation of receipt of this email. As there was no contract made, I see that there is no requirement to refer this to the Independent Appeals Service and I categorically refuse to make any payment unless ordered by a valid court- in the unlikely event that court action is pursued, be assured that it will be vigorously contested.

If, taking all the circumstances into account, you still feel that you have grounds for a claim, I will reasonably expect to receive a fully compliant Letter before Claim, together with all of the photographs and other evidence upon which you would rely, within 14 days and of course such a frivolous claim, as I have already mentioned, would be robustly defended.

Do not send debt collector letters and do not add any costs or surcharges. I will not respond to those, so to involve another firm would be a failure to mitigate your alleged loss. In any case, the addition of any debt collector 'costs' is not my liability because the POFA 2012 can only potentially hold a registered keeper liable if certain provisions have been met and even then, the 'amount of the parking charge' is the only amount pursuable.

Yours faithfully,


Ok my draft to send. Once again thanks for everybody's help here, I'm very grateful to all contributors. Your thoughts/suggestions on the draft are valued.

This post has been edited by Yogi_B: Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 21:52
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SchoolRunMum
post Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 20:47
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That will do nicely I think! They may or may not cancel but I can't see them picking this one for a claim.
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Yogi_B
post Sun, 13 Mar 2016 - 18:53
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QUOTE (SchoolRunMum @ Tue, 23 Feb 2016 - 20:47) *
That will do nicely I think! They may or may not cancel but I can't see them picking this one for a claim.


Perhaps unsurprisingly they've decided not cancel and the following letter landed through the post. I'd like to see them argue that it's possible for a driver to make a contract whilst driving at 20 mph and simultaneously read their unclear signage. They also make reference to double yellow lines and red routes, neither of which they have installed. The letter says that 'a person can enter into a contract either by expressly agreeing to do so or by acting in such a way that he/she can be said to have implied agreement to enter into a contract'- I'd like to see how they interpret the latter or more to the point how they think a court would.

Going off previous advice on other threads within this forum, I don't think that I'll be taking their offer of the IAS and wait for the inevitable denial of appeal.

This post has been edited by Yogi_B: Sun, 13 Mar 2016 - 18:54
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