If you follow my Twitter feed, you’ll have spotted that last Friday, I inadvertently parked our car in a reserved spot in a cheap carpark near to Birmingham city centre. For this minor lapse in judgement, the Vicar and I were then forced to hand over £390 in cash to retrieve our vehicle. We’d been the victims of a just-about-legal (but not for much longer) scam perpetrated by Mid-Way Parks, a car clamping outfit, who can be found all over the internet (and not in a good way). You can read the Vicar’s version of events over on his blog.
The whole episode left us not only poorer but also angry. Although I’d parked in the wrong place, we felt that the charge was totally disproportionate to the infraction. The cheery men who took our money told us that ‘someone pays a lot of money to reserve that spot’. But in all the times we’ve parked in that carpark (maybe a dozen over the last couple of years) we’ve never seen the space occupied. It certainly wasn’t when we returned to find our car missing.
In fact, Mid-Way Parks seem to have designed their carparks to entice motorists into misparking so that they can then charge them enormous amounts of money following clamping and towing. That appears to have been the experience of the many people on the forums I linked above and the THREE Facebook groups dedicated to those who feel they’ve been unfairly treated by Mr Walton Wilkins and his team.
After our adventure with the carnappers, we took the Queen (who’d just been taking a school entrance exam) to eat in a city centre restaurant. As we walked in, we were very pleased to bump into our local MP, the renowned Murdoch mauler, Tom Watson. When he asked how we were, we told him! And he informed us that there is a bill about to be brought into force that will put Mid-Way Parks out of business.
I am glad about that, but am still wondering how justice can be done. I’ve written to Tom Watson in more detail, and also Gisela Stuart, a Birmingham MP who responded to a tweet I sent to all the local MPs I could find. I was especially annoyed to have found out that despite many court judgements against Mid-Way Parks, Mr Wilkins and his staff were issued with renewed licences by the Home Office Agency the Security Industry Authority (SIA) only last August.