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Couple's fury over 'spiteful' fine at Highcliffe Top car park

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WHEN New Milton man James Riley-Pitt parked to one side of a bay at a Highcliffe car park to allow space for his wife to get out more easily, he never imagined he would return to find a ticket slapped on his car.

The couple had driven to the near-empty Highcliffe Top car park, next to the Cliffhanger Cafe, to take their dog for a walk. Mr Riley-Pitt said he had infringed the white line – but not gone over it – to ensure his 79-year-old wife, Carol, who is recovering from pelvic surgery, could vacate the car.

“I didn’t want her to have to twist and turn too much if somebody parked next to us,” said Mr Riley-Pitt. “When I came back to see the ticket it blew my mind – I couldn’t believe the spitefulness of it.

James and Carol Riley-Pitt
James and Carol Riley-Pitt

“The park was nearly empty and my wheel, while on the white line, was not over it. I appealed, not because I give a toss about paying the £25 but because I was astonished at how unfair it was.

“I explained the circumstances and attached a series of photos showing where my car was and the near-empty car park, but I was dismissed out of hand and simply told there was no ‘basis for appeal’. It’s like Putin’s Russia and it makes a complete mockery of the appeals process.”

Mr Riley-Pitt paid the fine because he wanted the matter “over with”, but he believes parking wardens should be using their discretion.

“I lived in central London for years and have never experienced anything like it,” he continued. “I’ve seen how badly people can park and I know how irritating it is – I agree that people must obey parking laws. For that reason I don’t assume any liberties myself; my wife and I try to be reasonable and not infringe on others.

“This is why I felt such anger when I saw that ticket because it just didn’t occur to me, when I pulled into a bloody great car park and veered slightly to the right of the bay in what is a wider-than-average car, that I would be fined!”

Mr Riley-Pitt said he and his wife had parked at the location on countless occasions over the years and had been fairly regular customers at the Cliffhanger, but since the incident had avoided Highcliffe altogether.

“Without a shadow of a doubt I would not go back there,” said Mr Riley-Pitt. “There are lots of other places to go and we simply won’t go there again – not when there are parking wardens like that walking around.”

A BCP Council spokesperson said evidence had shown that “approximately a quarter of the vehicle was in the adjacent bay”.

“The regulations of the car park are displayed on the tariff boards which are situated within the car park. This includes the regulation that vehicles must be parked wholly within a marked bay. If for any reason the vehicle does not fit or if the driver feels that other vehicles would be too close to theirs, then an alternative parking place would have to be found.

“This regulation is enforced regardless of how busy the car park is and whether payment for parking has been made. This is so that enforcement is seen to be fair to all.

“We are sorry to hear that the customer found the council response to be dismissive. However, full details of the options available to the customer were given including methods to pay and other options to continue challenging.”

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