Motorist ‘made to feel like a criminal’ after incurring parking fine at Sheffield shopping centre

The Berkeley Centre on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield where parking charges have been introduced.
The Berkeley Centre on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield where parking charges have been introduced.

A Sheffield parking firm has come under fire after changes to regulations at one of its car parks caught out several drivers.

Tinsley-based firm Vehicle Control Services altered the regulations at the Berkeley Precinct car park, on Ecclesall Road last November, reducing the number of free hours available to drivers from two to one.

The Berkeley Centre on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield where parking charges have been introduced.

The Berkeley Centre on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield where parking charges have been introduced.

The change has since caught out at least three drivers, who all say they were not aware of the changes and that signs informing motorists of the new rules were inadequate.

Motorist Trish Dearden said: “I have fought this for a long time as I had good reason for returning late to my car. The charge was £100 for being late by 15 minutes but they totally disregarded my appeal and the charge has now escalated to £180.

“I feel that I have been hounded and threatened and made to feel like a criminal. Although I am now resigned to the fact that I must pay this as they will not listen to reason and have involved the court, I cannot let this go.

“I am aware that there are people who are alone and vulnerable and also being issued with unfair, astronomical payment demands. I want to challenge them, maybe raise signatures to take to the government and anything else I can do to stand up to these bullies.”

The Berkeley Centre on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield where parking charges have been introduced.

The Berkeley Centre on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield where parking charges have been introduced.

The company has more than 100 reviews on Google - all of them negative - and has an average rating of one star out of five.

Four-and-a-half-years-ago, VCS lost a case against Nether Edge woman Rachael Finn, who fought a total charge of £735 and won. VCS, however, claimed the court ruling set no precedent as each case was heard on its individual merits.

Ms Finn, who enlisted the help of parking expert Phil Hilsden with her claim, was awarded £90 for loss of earnings, £1 for petrol – and £4 to pay for parking at court.

Peter Hallam, of VCS, said the firm was ‘satisfied’ it had given due warning of the change.

The Berkeley Centre on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield where parking charges have been introduced.

The Berkeley Centre on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield where parking charges have been introduced.

He said: “This change was advertised on new signage which was installed from early November 2018 and was in place for several weeks prior to the actual go-live date.

“Additional temporary signage was also positioned around the car park in October advising motorists of the forthcoming changes.

“Drivers also have a responsibility to ensure that they familiarise themselves with the terms and conditions on each and every occasion they visit a car park and not assume that the same terms' applied when they previously used the car park which, for some people, may have been many months prior.”