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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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Yogi_B
post Mon, 22 Aug 2016 - 18:27
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QUOTE (SchoolRunMum @ Mon, 22 Aug 2016 - 15:28) *
Go ahead and make those complaints though!

Strong versions to copy from are shown here:

SRA complaint: http://forums.pepipoo.com/index.php?showtopic=107836

and here:

CSA complaint: http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5490266

Make sure you only include relevant paragraphs of course (i.e. if the example says 'the BW Legal letter says this' then you must only use if if your letters do say it!


Thanks for the links, I had just been reading the first one but yes I will be putting something together this week for both bodies.
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Yogi_B
post Wed, 7 Sep 2016 - 12:36
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Well just an update on this matter. Firstly I haven't yet filed complaints to SRA and CSA due to my girlfriend being hospitalised following a severe fall and this matter has had to be placed on the back burner somewhat.

Following Gan's advice, a concise letter was sent off to BWL together with a copy of my previous letter which BWL had totally failed to acknowledge in their FINAL LETTER.

A letter dated 31st August dropped on the mat this morning which I have shown below, in which they do acknowledge my previous letter and they seem to have taken a step back from the FINAL LETTER with its immediate threat of court action and have reverted back to 'please contact within 7 days to pay' and have sought to mitigate as always their £54 charge. So do I just ignore or reply back reaffirming my stance and inviting them to take this to court.



This post has been edited by Yogi_B: Wed, 7 Sep 2016 - 12:39
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Yogi_B
post Thu, 8 Sep 2016 - 21:09
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Just to add some more information to this thread which may possibly be significant if this ever sees a court.

I had to make a trip out to the other side of Doncaster this morning and thought that it may be a good opportunity to also go over to Scunthorpe and review the area in question as I haven't been back since last year.

Well firstly the 'roadway' is still administered by VCS. They seemingly have changed the sign at the entrance (if I can call it that) to their section of 'roadway'. It's not a huge change in signage, it still makes reference (as do VCS's letters) to double yellow lines and red routes even though there aren't any but it is definitely different nonetheless. What is different, is that they have installed 7 or 8 small repeater signs on the kerbside that face drivers oncoming. The confusing sign situated on wasteland back in December has been removed. All the new signs have at the base, some sort of reference number which I am sure if VCS are pressed, will presumably one would have thought, tie-in to a works schedule. Maybe they thought that by increasing the number of signs and making them more visible strengthened their hand for the future?

Prior to the area that VCS administer, all the roadways in the park have double yellow lines painted, a clear message that parking there is not permissible. If VCS were seriously wanting to prevent parking on their section of 'roadway' surely they would have put lines down too or perhaps they just wanted to entrap people with confusing signage and generate income? ( I think the latter)

As I drove back home it occured to me that anyone putting up permanent signs in a location surely needs planning consent, don't they? Well I have been onto the website of North Lincolnshire planning department and can find no record there of any such application for this are going back ten years. There are plenty of examples of firms like the nearby Tesco putting in for consent for trolley park signs and the like but nothing from VCS. I'm therefore going to give the planning department a call tomorrow and see if they do need consent and if they have it or applied for it. Whether lack of consent will be relevant in the future in a small claims court, I don't know but it might well be a severe irritation to VCS and one that could be replicated possibly at other locations and with other companies.

We'll see.

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nosferatu1001
post Fri, 9 Sep 2016 - 00:05
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Advertising consent as well. Lack of which is a criminal offence and can't be back dated.
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Yogi_B
post Wed, 14 Sep 2016 - 16:34
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QUOTE (nosferatu1001 @ Fri, 9 Sep 2016 - 01:05) *
Advertising consent as well. Lack of which is a criminal offence and can't be back dated.


Sadly Nosferatu, a call last Friday to North Lincolnshire Council didn't result in them showing any interest in taking the planning aspects further.

I have put pictures of the original sign (courtesy of a story in the Scunthorpe Telegraph last year) when it would have been present at the time of the 'event' in December and then below it the sign as of present. Both signs are forbidding- offering no contract and are confusing in their reference to yellow and red lines. The earlier of the two carries the BPA logo whereas the second IPA. In anticipation that 'new kids on the block' BWL may try to get a few cases to court due to their recent activity, I am starting to formulate defences that may be applicable.The nature of the signs i.e forbidding would mean that they would have to prosecute for trespass and certainly couldn't reply on parking legislation such as Beavis?

As VCS were no longer members of the BPA in December last year, would the misuse of the BPA logo be another ground to add to my defence?

Lastly, there is no mention on the original sign about 'additional costs' i.e the £54 that BWL are so insistent with everyone that they are so entitled to.



Original Sign



Current Sign
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Yogi_B
post Tue, 20 Sep 2016 - 15:59
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I have already sent a complaint about BWL off to the SRA and am awaiting a reply on that one. I've started to draft a complaint to the CSA picking through what I can find from others. Please find below a draft, can I ask for an appraisal of its contents so far please.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I have received a letter from BW Legal on behalf of Vehicle Control Services Ltd, a copy of which I enclose for your perusal. I am concerned that in the contents of the letter BW Legal, as a member of your body, breaches the guidelines of the CSA Code of Practice (COP) and those of the use, format and content of standard debt collection communication guidance document, (Produced in association with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
As such I wish to formally raise a complaint about the matter with your association.

There are many points of the COP that I believe BW Legal are not complying with, I summarise below.

Section 1: Key Requirements

Code 1(g): Ensure that any communication complies with this Code of Practice and is in plain English.
Code 1(y): Communicate with customers fairly and transparently, and not intentionally mislead them.
Code 1(aa): Treat customers fairly and not subject customers (or their authorised representatives) to aggressive practices, or conduct which is deceitful, oppressive, unfair or improper, whether lawful or not.

Section 10: Pre- Litigation and Litigation

Code 10©: Not mislead customers as to the consequences or inevitability of consequences arising from any legal or bankruptcy action

Summary: The contents and tone of the enclosed correspondence from BW Legal I strongly believe show that they are attempting to mislead, frighten and coerce recipients by misrepresenting county court procedures and mis-quoting case law as they have quoted ‘Parking Eye v Beavis’ which has no relevance to this matter, a clear breach of the codes above.

Section 1: Key Requirements

Code 1(k): Inform their clients of the true rates of charges for services rendered.

Section 10: Pre- Litigation and Litigation

Code 10(k): Only impose such costs and interest on customers as it is lawfully entitled.

Summary: In their correspondence they clearly breach both these codes in an attempt to extract a further £54 for their fees in addition to the disputed ‘penalty charge’.
Additionally as they are fully aware that these costs are non-recoverable in a small claims court they once again breach Code 1(y) by attempting to intentionally mislead and further breach the same, by an assertion that this charge was clearly displayed on their client’s signage which it was most definitely not (photographic evidence enclosed).

Section 7: Telephone and Written Communication Collection and Recovery

Section 7(e): When making written contact, adhere to the CSA Guidance on Debt Collection Communication*, and ensure communications are written and produced in line with applicable regulations, legislation and regulatory guidance (* Use, format and content of Standard Debt Collection Communication, produced in association with the Office of Fair Trading).

Section 10: Pre- Litigation and Litigation

Section 10(d): Comply with section D (“Content - Legal”) of the CSA’s Standard Debt Collection Communication Guidance document.

SUMMARY:Both these codes of guidance, while being broadly similar in content, have been disregarded by BW Legal by virtue of the content, tone used and deliberate attempts at misinterpretation.

I trust you will find all the information you require within this letter if you need further information I am contactable as above.

I will be informing BW Legal that I have raised this complaint with yourselves but I will not be availing myself of their ‘in-house’ complaints service which enquiries reveal is a form of ‘window dressing’, in other words shambolic.

Also, for your information the contents of the letters also form the basis of a parallel complaint to the Solicitors Regulation Authority of which BW Legal are also a member of.

I look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully,



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Yogi_B
post Sat, 10 Feb 2018 - 13:29
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Well after hearing nothing more about this matter for some time, a couple of weeks before Christmas BW Legal tried to speak to me on the phone but I ended the call and blocked the number. A 'letter of claim' landed on the doormat last week dated 25th January and stating that if payment or response is not received before the first of March then they are instructed to commence a County Court claim.

The figure they are claiming is £154 (£100 charge plus £54 'legal costs') but then go on with an estimate of £243.48 including court fees, solicitor's costs and interest of £14.48. Included is an information sheet, reply form and income and expenditure. I will obviously be ticking Box D, that I dispute the debt but the form asks to include a seperate sheet stating why. The LBA (post Oct 2017) responses that I have so far found seem to not actually state why the debt is denied but to ask for further information i.e Box i.

Question 1) do I just send the LBA response as per MSE template or do I also include reasons for denying such as inadequate signage, forbidding contract, as well as disputing interest because they have known my position on this matter from day one, yet it has taken them over 2 years to get to this stage?

2) The fact that the £54 recovery cost cannot be claimed under CPR

3) The BW letter asks for payment or response by 1st March but the reply forms say I have 30 days from the date of the letter, that's 24th February, which is the one to comply with.

Interestingly they have included on the top of their letter on the location part, the name of the landholder/owner company they were obviously involved with- this company was dissolved in October 2017 and according to companies register has not traded since September 2015?

This post has been edited by Yogi_B: Sat, 10 Feb 2018 - 13:46
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Jlc
post Sat, 10 Feb 2018 - 14:00
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They would argue the £54 is covered on the signs under 'Late payment will attract additional charges...'

Of course, impossible to read.

...seems void due to uncertainty too. They aren’t using PoFA - which does specifically limit the amount.


--------------------
RK=Registered Keeper, OP=Original Poster (You!), CoFP=Conditional Offer of Fixed Penalty, NtK=Notice to Keeper, NtD=Notice to Driver
PoFA=Protection of Freedoms Act, SAC=Safety Awareness Course, NIP=Notice of Intended Prosecution, ADR=Alternative Dispute Resolution
PPC=Private Parking Company, LBCCC=Letter Before County Court Claim, PII=Personally Identifiable Information

Private Parking - remember, they just want your money and will say almost anything to get it.
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nosferatu1001
post Sun, 11 Feb 2018 - 10:49
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The £54 isn’t claimable jlc, you know that. It’s never been allowed except in mortgage cases where it’s specificslly listed.

Send MSE template alter to add your request for all documents. State your reasons for denyin the debt.

They have to give at least30 days. More than that is fine!
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Yogi_B
post Sun, 25 Feb 2018 - 15:02
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I've penned a response to BW Legal and will be sending it first class post with proof of sending tomorrow so it will arrive Wednesday guaranteed. Can I ask that the more knowledgable of you check what I have written and add your comments and critiques before I send it please.

Dear Sir/ Madam

Account Number:

I refer to your most recent letter dated 25th January 2018 and headed ‘Letter Of Claim’.

First of all, any debt to Vehicle Control Services is still, as has always been the case from the outset, strenuously denied. Furthermore, as I have pointed out in previous correspondence to you, your claim for £54 legal costs is not claimable in the Small Claims Court and has to be borne by your client.

Your latest letter makes mention of a claim for interest totaling £14.48. From the outset my position about this alleged debt to VCS has been abundantly clear and the fact that it has taken over two years to reach where we are now is either a result of your dilatoriness, or a deliberate ploy to enhance the size of the claim. I therefore totally reject any claim for interest.

Returning to the original claim from VCS this as always has been disputed by myself on the following points:

• Inadequate and confusing signage sited in such a way on the incident date to lead a motorist into believing it applied to an approach road where double yellow lines were painted- this is not the section under the jurisdiction of VCS and subject of the claim
• The sign as sited on the incident date could not be fully read and understood by a motorist travelling at any speed. There can therefore be no meeting of minds and no contract by performance
• The signage is forbidding and makes no offer to the motorist. There can therefore be no contract
• Even if there was a contract the signage fails informational requirements for contracts established in the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation And Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, enacted 13 June 2014, and so any contract would be non-binding on the consumer
• Even if the contract was binding, the charge is a penalty and an unfair consumer charge. ParkingEye v Beavis is the leading authority on this. Although ParkingEye won the case, the judgment makes it clear that if the charge is not to be a penalty/unfair consumer charge, the driver must have ample time to be able to read and digest the contractual terms so that they can fairly agree to the terms. As this has not happened the charge is not saved from being a penalty/unfair consumer charge, and unless VCS have incurred costs of £100, the charge is excessive.
• Absent any contract, a claim could only be brought in trespass, and only by the landowner

However, your letter contains insufficient detail of the claim and it does not even say what the cause of action is. Nor does it contain any mention of what evidence your client intends to rely on, or enclose copies of such evidence.
Your client must know that on 01 October 2017 a new protocol is applicable to debt claims. Since proceedings have not yet been issued, the new protocol clearly applies and must be complied with.

Your letter clearly breaches both the requirements of the previously applicable Practice Direction - Pre-Action Conduct (paragraphs 6(a) and 6©) and the new Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims (paragraphs 3.1(a)-(d), 5.1 and 5.2. Please treat this letter as a formal request for all of the documents / information that the protocol now requires your client to provide. Your client must not issue proceedings without complying with that protocol. I reserve the right to draw any failure of the Claimant to comply with the protocol to the attention of the court and to ask the court to stay the claim and order your client to comply with its pre-action obligations, and when costs come to be considered.
Nobody, including your client, is immune from the requirements and obligations of the Practice Direction.
Your letter also states that an income/expenditure form requires completing. This is totally misleading, as it only relates to anyone who admits the debt.

I require your client to comply with its obligations by sending me the following information/documents:
1. An explanation of the cause of action
2. Are they are pursuing me as driver or keeper?
3. Are they are relying on the provisions of Schedule 4 of POFA 2012?
4. What are the details of the claim (where it is claimed the car was stopped, for how long, how the monies being claimed arose and have been calculated)?
5. Is the claim for a contractual breach? If so, what is the date of the agreement? The names of the parties to it and provide to me a copy of that contract.
6. Is the claim for trespass? If so provide details.
7. Provide me a copy of the contract with the landowner under which they assert authority to bring the claim, as required by the IPC code of practice establishing your client as the creditor
8. A plan showing where any signs on the date in question were displayed
9. Full details of the signs displayed on the date in question (size of sign, size of font, height at which displayed).
With regards to paras 8 & 9 please be aware that it is known that additional VCS signage was placed along the roadway during 2016 which mitigates my assertion that what was there the previous year, was either inadequate or by design there to trap unsuspecting motorists.
10. If they have added anything on to the original charge, what that represents and how exactly it has been calculated.

I am clearly entitled to this information under paragraphs 6(a) and 6© of the Practice Direction. I also need it in order to comply with my own obligations under paragraph 6(b).

If your client does not provide me with this information then I put you on notice that I will be relying on the cases of Webb Resolutions Ltd v Waller Needham & Green [2012] EWHC 3529 (Ch), Daejan Investments Limited v The Park West Club Limited (Part 20) !!!8211; Buxton Associates [2003] EWHC 2872, Charles Church Developments Ltd v Stent Foundations Limited & Peter Dann Limited [2007] EWHC 855 in asking the court to impose sanctions on your client and to order a stay of the proceedings, pursuant to paragraphs 13 ,15(b) and © and 16. I will draw to the court the fact that I have expressly requested this information in early 2017, yet your client has yet to provide it.

Until your client has complied with its obligations and provided this information, I am unable to respond properly to the alleged claim and to consider my position in relation to it, and it is entirely premature (and a waste of costs and court time) for your client to issue proceedings. Should your client do so, then I will seek an immediate stay pursuant to paragraph 15(b) of the Practice Direction and an order that this information is provided.
Yours faithfully
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Yogi_B
post Mon, 26 Feb 2018 - 09:47
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Any comments on what I propose to send to BWL before I send off today?
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Yogi_B
post Sun, 11 Mar 2018 - 15:46
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Well after sending off my letter as in post#50 I received an acknowledgment of receipt dated 6th March saying that the file has been placed on hold while they query the matter with their client (VCS) and to expect a response over the next 30 days.

So two days later a letter arrives dated 7th March which I have attached photos- so that was a whole 24 hours of enquiries with their client!

The usual copy and paste rubbish in which it mixes up stopping and parking, says that they are not relying on POFA but will use the case Combined Parking Solutions v AJH Films, refuse sight of the alleged contract with the landholder, do not detail sighting and maintenance of signs and stick to the assertion that there is a contract merely by driving onto a stretch of road that is open and indistinguishable other than for the absence of double yellow lines, from that which precedes it. They go on to use 'mutual promise', whatever that is, to confirm a 'unilateral contract'.

Do I bother to write back and point out their omissions and falsehoods, or just wait for their next move, whatever that may be?

Page 1

Page 2

This post has been edited by Yogi_B: Sun, 11 Mar 2018 - 15:48
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nosferatu1001
post Mon, 12 Mar 2018 - 12:00
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Write back, point out all their errors and misreps, point out that CPS vs AJH films requires them to prove that the driver was acting under instruction of an employer, that the keeper was their employer, and that given you deny both they will struggle to show how this case can be applicable.

Double RED lines woud indicate no stopping, DYL ALLOW stopping.
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Yogi_B
post Mon, 12 Mar 2018 - 20:47
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QUOTE (nosferatu1001 @ Mon, 12 Mar 2018 - 12:00) *
Write back, point out all their errors and misreps, point out that CPS vs AJH films requires them to prove that the driver was acting under instruction of an employer, that the keeper was their employer, and that given you deny both they will struggle to show how this case can be applicable.

Double RED lines woud indicate no stopping, DYL ALLOW stopping.


Thank you for that Nosferatu, I will hopefully compose something tomorrow and put it up for critique before I send it off.
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Yogi_B
post Thu, 15 Mar 2018 - 15:20
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Draft response, can I ask for your thoughts please?




Dear Sir/ Madam

I refer to your recent communication dated 6th March which stated that consultation would take place with your client. Unbelievably this was followed by a letter dated the 7th March which attempts to state your client’s position.

Your letter of the 7th has all the hallmarks of a ‘copy and paste’ response which repeatedly confuses parking and stopping in its body and fails to satisfactorily answer questions that I have previously asked.

This was then followed by an enclosure dated 9th March headed ‘your outstanding query’, the contents of which are neither relevant to, nor satisfy those questions.

Your reply is deficient in the following:

1) You fail to address the fact that consideration is a fundamental prerequisite of English contract law and make absurd references to ‘unilateral contract’ and ‘mutual promise’ in what I can only see as an attempt to mislead with legal jargon.

2) Similarly, you fail to acknowledge the landmark ruling of Parking Eye v Beavis which makes it clear that for the charge not to be a penalty/unfair consumer charge, the driver must have ample time to be able to read and digest the contractual terms so that they can fairly agree to the terms.


3) You continue to totally disregard Civil Procedure Rules (27.14) which quite clearly state that your expenses are not recoverable in the small claims track. You go on to say the fees are reasonable, and state the terms and conditions of the car park- this was not a car park. Furthermore I asked that anything added to the original charge is detailed as to what it represents and how it has been calculated.


4) You state that your client is not relying on the Protections of Freedom Act to identify the driver but Combined Parking Solutions Ltd v AJH Films a case that on examination has no relevance to this case.

5) The question of interest being claimed is not addressed. I reiterate that my stance on this matter has been clear from the outset, any delay on taking this to the small claims court is due to you and your client and I dispute the charge, which along with your sum for fees, is an attempt to artificially inflate this claim.

6) It is not good enough to simply say that your client’s signs conform to IPC codes of practice. You were specifically asked to supply details of position, location, (size of sign, size of font, height at which displayed) and I would add maintenance schedules and records.

7) A contract between your client and landowner/ holder may be legally privileged in its complete form but it should be possible to supply a redacted copy with commercially sensitive information removed, should such a contract actually exist.


I would ask that you address these deficiencies and in the event of any future proceedings a failure to provide at this stage will be brought to the attention of the court.
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nosferatu1001
post Thu, 15 Mar 2018 - 15:28
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4) You need to explain this a little more. State the driver was going about their private business, not under direction of the Keeper, who in anyway cannot be regareed as having a principal / agent relationship to the driver as they are not their employer in anyway shape or form. Lastly you note that thiss absurd suggestion has been acknowledged as such in repeated court cases. You trust that they will perofrm their first duty, and let the court know that this case has been found to be irrleevant in small claims cases they themselves have had conduct of in other locations Or will they not bring this to the courts attention,a s they are required?

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Yogi_B
post Thu, 15 Mar 2018 - 16:02
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Nosferatu,

Thanks for your input. I've just tried to send you a PM but your inbox is full. Is it possible to have a brief chat with you off-thread, there's something I'd like to ask without it being on the general forum.
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nosferatu1001
post Thu, 15 Mar 2018 - 16:11
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I will clear one space now.
I would not normally do this - the forum is ideal because it is open.
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Yogi_B
post Thu, 15 Mar 2018 - 16:15
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Ok but I think you'll understand why I ask.
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Yogi_B
post Sat, 31 Mar 2018 - 16:28
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This letter arrived in the post the other day.

I suppose I shouldn't have expected anything else from BW Legal who basically just seem to make up stuff as they go along and appear to have reinvented contract law.

After doing some further digging about this site there is a possibility that this section of roadway is actually council adopted and VCS have absolutely no right to issue claims at all. This was certainly correct in a small claims hearing that took place last February in Hull which is reported on the Parking Prankster blog, where the claim by VCS was disallowed for this very reason. They are very insistent that they will not release a copy, even redacted, of their so called contract with the landowner/ holder, I think because there, in reality, isn't one in existence.

They are also very defensive about location, size and maintenance of signs, just coming up with a fob off 'all signs conform with IPC guidelines'. If such information was available you would think that they would be more than happy to share it and demonstrate how professional their clients are.

I don't know whether it's worth going once more at BWL, assuming they will refuse to supply requested information and use this as further evidence of their unreasonableness if it ends up in the small claims court. It mighty also be a good opportunity to make a dig about their unfortunate mention in Parliament a few weeks ago as unscrupulous legal representatives to equally unscrupulous PPCs.



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