Have you fallen foul of Leamington Station parking system error?

David Bird with his parking fine letters.
David Bird with his parking fine letters.

Chiltern Railways has apologised after people using the car parks at Leamington Station have received penalty notices due to a technical error.

This week, readers have contacted The Courier to report that they have received several letters from APCOA - the company which covers parking security, charges and fines on Chiltern's behalf at the station's car parks.

These letters are demanding the recipients pay a fine for over-long stays at the station which did not take place.

In some cases the recepient's car is pictured entering the top car park at the station and leaving several hours later from the lower car park (forecourt) not recognising these were separate visits to the station and that it is not possible to drive a car between the two car parks without exiting one first.

A spokeswoman for Chiltern said: "We’re sorry that customers have received incorrect penalty notices at Leamington Spa station.

"Chiltern Railways operates an automatic number plate recognition system (ANPR) at our station car park at Leamington.

"This system uses cameras to record the vehicle registration plate as it enters and leaves the car park.

"In some cases where vehicles are very close together the registration plate can be obscured from the view of the camera.

"This can then potentially result in two separate visits being matched together, wrongly indicating a single long stay at the car park.

"These instances are rare and we are only aware of one incident of this type at Leamington in recent months.

"Details of how to appeal a penalty charge letter are provided with the notice and in such circumstances the penalty will be cancelled."

David Bird, of College Drive, Leamington, has received several letters this year including two recently but only uses the car parks as pick up and drop off points for his wife and daughter who regularly travel to and from Birmingham.

In one case a letter shows his car being driven into the top car park of the station and then leaving the lower car park several hours later even though these were part of different visits to the site.

He said: "It is clearly incompetence on the way they analyse the information and I wonder how many other people have received similar letters.

"An apology is needed - sorting this out has taken up hours of my time."

Robert Coles, of Kenilworth Road, Cubbington, said he parks for a few minutes each week to buy a ticket a few days ahead of travel.

He received four letters with fines from APCOA this week with the alleged offences dating back to August and early September but only having been issued last week.

He said: "The mind boggles at how much Apcoa must be collecting in response to drivers parking correctly, let alone those who merely drop-off or pick-up arriving passengers.

"Even more since it operates car parking nationwide. "