Challenge your drop-off fine says charity

ANGRY motorists left fuming after being lumbered with parking tickets at Luton Airport could be in for a pleasant surprise.

The parking area is on private land operated by APCOA Parking UK on behalf of Luton Airport and while the ticket may look like an official fixed penalty notice, it’s not. It means it’s a civil and not criminal matter.

A Citizens Advice Bureau spokesperson said: “It’s a notice that they intend taking you to court for trespassing and will offer to let you pay some money to settle the case out of court.

“This isn’t a criminal matter.

“There is no independent appeal process for parking fines on private land.

“But if the parking operator decides to take you to a county court, the court may decide you don’t have to pay the fine – for example because the parking restrictions weren’t clear.

”A parking operator doesn’t have a legal right to recover a parking fine without first taking court action against you.”

A Luton Borough Council spokesman confirmed that the council is responsible for parking enforcement on public roads, a power it took over from the police in 1999.

He said: “The road leading to the Airport from the Holiday Inn onwards to the terminal is a private road over which the public have access.

“The Airport is responsible for their own parking enforcement on this road.”

Luton Airport spokesman Oli Jaycock said: “All communications distinguish that an enforcement notice will or has been issued.

“There is a standard charge of £80 reducing to £40 if paid within 14 days.”

He said the charge was introduced in August last year: “It is to deter drivers from picking up or setting down passengers in unauthorised areas which poses a risk to both the safety of passengers and that of other road users, as well as causing congestion and disruption to traffic.

“The charge is strictly enforced with mobile CCTV cameras.”

He added money made from enforcement notices is reinvested into airport improvements.

“Most recently the reconfiguration of the drop-off zone has improved access and egress for all vehicles users to the central terminal area,” he said.

The airport refused to comment on how many people had been taken to court for refusing to pay the fine.

> Find out more by visiting www.adviceguide.org.uk then enter ‘parking’ in the search engine.

> Have you challenged an airport enforcement notice? Our contact details are on this page.