This morning our car was towed away from a car park in Birmingham City Centre (Ellis Street) because we parked in a reserved space. It cost us £390 in cash to get the car back from a rundown backstreet yard belonging to Midway Parks, at 50 Midland Street, in Birmingham’s Bordesley area, owned by Walton Wilkins, who claims to have made £10 million from his business.
We have parked at the Ellis Street car park many times before, because it is very scruffy but cheap (50p per hour). It almost looks abandoned and once the ticket machine did not work. We’ve always been a bit wary of the warning signs scattered around the walls of the abandoned factory and so have parked in the correct spaces but this morning someone was in a daze and made a mistake. We know that sins of omission are still sins and justice must be done. We don’t mind paying for our mistakes, as long as the penalty is proportionate to the crime. £390 seems completely disproportionate.
Midway Parking is operating within the letter of the law. The sign on the parking bay said “Reserved. Do not park in this space even if you have a Pay and Display ticket. You will still be clamped.” Then a nearby sign, with poor grammar, said “Unauthorised or incorrectly parked cars will be clamped, blocked in and or towed away. Release fee additional £200 plus a storage charge of £40 per day.” The fees we have been charged are within the legal limits, even though the compound charge is extortionate. The daily parking charges are low but be warned, the cost of breaking the rules more than makes up for them. We probably saved £5-6 parking costs each time we used the car park, but after being towed it would take 60 visits to make it worthwhile. Judging by the uproar shown in reports from other disgruntled parkers, (see also the Birmingham Mail forum) we’d be likely to be towed again in that time, so we’ll go somewhere else and advise you to do the same.
I assume that the law as it stands was drafted to allow car parks to be well-managed and to prevent their abuse by selfish or uncaring parkers. In this case it seems that the low parking charges, the randomly placed “reserved” bays and poorly marked “official” bays are a honey trap set to entice the naive and that natural justice is not being done.
To rub salt in the wound, one of the new wheeltrims I fitted a month ago, and attached with plastic straps, was missing when I got home. When I phoned to ask if they had removed it, I was told “You should have checked the vehicle before you left the yard.”