Granddad wins court battle over 50p parking debt that financially ‘ruined’ him

A granddad who claims he was 'financially devastated' by a £272 fine over a 50p parking debt has won a court battle to overturn a county court judgement.

Retired magistrate Clive Sowerby, 78, refused to pay hundreds of pounds in fines to a private parking firm over the 50p discrepancy from when he parked on when he parked in Crown Lane, Stourbridge, West Midlands in October 2019.

The grandfather-of-three had put £4 in a pay and display machine not realising the cost had just been put up to £4.50 and weeks later he was hit with a £60 fine.

Clive wrote to Premier Parking Logistics explaining his mistake but they replied in November 2019 telling him the penalty had increased to £160.

He contacted the firm again and heard nothing back until January last year when they replied to informing him that he had been served with a County Court Judgement (CCJ), meaning he would need to dispute the fine in court.

By this time the fine had risen to £272.55 and he was unable to apply for a loan to expand the shoe shop business he has run for 50 years.

He also feared the black mark on his credit score would delay his retirement plans and affect how much he could leave to his family in his will.

But Clive continues to fight back in the lengthy legal dispute and has now successfully overturned the judgement issued against him following a hearing at Worcester County Court.

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The dad-of-two said: "I hate injustice and I love my town. You can't do anything with a CCJ, it's really crippling. But I've done this for the community.

"We don't need people like this doing business in our town and I think people need to stand up for themselves when they know they are not in the wrong.

"The way the parking company went about their business was both unjust and ruthless. I've had to appeal three times and finally, common sense has prevailed.

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"Previously it felt like the court was aiding and abetting this kind of behaviour. They simply said at first I had the financial means to pay but I successfully argued the fine was grossly unfair.

"The signage was shambolic so you could not see the charges had increased. They had put a sticker up over the zero to indicate it had gone up 50p.

"There was a tree blocking part of the tariff board and another sign about the price rise was just cellotaped to it.

"There was no intention on my part to avoid paying, we spend around £700 a year parking there, we just didn't notice the price hike"It has been nice to finally put the parking company in their place and to clear my name.

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"I will have to go to a small claims court to recoup costs but I have enough on my plate looking after my wife who is having chemotherapy for leukaemia.

"This is enough of a victory for now. I know hundreds of other motorists will be in similar situations and it just goes to show justice can be done. But it should also serve as a warning these private parking companies will take motorists to court."

The case was delayed by the pandemic but came before Deputy District Judge Bush on March 16 where the claim was dismissed.

Since the saga began it has emerged that Dudley Council owns part of the carpark and the authority had now updated the signage.

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Premier Parking Logistics said previously the initial charge was issued for an expired ticket and parking charges had increased months earlier.

A spokesperson said people have 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.

He added he was "chasing old debts" and he said heard "excuses galore" from people trying to get out of paying a parking fine, adding: "It's the same old story."

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