Hospital visitors who were issued with parking tickets say they should be entitled to a refund after CCTV cameras were set up without permission.
ParkingEye was launched at South Tyneside Hospital in South Shields in January 2014.
Mary Thompson with her parking ticket and blue badge. Picture by Jane Coltman
The firm uses a number plate recognition system to ensure drivers have parked correctly and bought a ticket.
Scores of people have been in touch with the Gazette since the system was first introduced claimed they had been unfairly penalised, often in times of emergency.
It has now been revealed that the relevant planning permission had not been granted by South Tyneside Council when the CCTV cameras, ticket machines and signage, were put in place between November and December 2013.
In July a retrospective planning application was registered by the company.
This has since been approved by the local authority.
A letter which was attached to the file sent by the council to ParkingEye reads: “The council has received a complaint regarding the installation of CCTV cameras (Parking Eye) and associated signage at the above location.
“I should advise you that a grant of planning permission is required from the council for the cameras and signage.
“On checking my records I can find no record of planning permission being sought or gained for this development.
“Please submit an application for planning permission. I am enclosing the relevant forms and guidance notes.”
The gazette asked ParkingEye if it would consider making any refunds.
A ParkingEye spokesperson said: “ParkingEye is a member of the British Parking Association (BPA) and follows its code of practice.
“We work with and support landowners in obtaining the necessary planning consent if required.”
South Tyneside NHS foundation Trust wished to make no comment on the matter, referring the Gazette to ParkingEye for a comment.
‘Victims’ of ParkingEye’s cameras say all fines should now be refunded
Mary Thompson, of Harton Village, South Shields, received a £70 fine in April.
The 82-year-old Blue Badge holder had driven to the hospital in Harton Lane, after her epileptic son, who she cares for, had suffered seizures.
With no disabled parking bays near the hospital’s entrance left, or any other spots, she parked on the road and she received a fine a few days later.
After weeks of complaining, Mrs Thompson got her fine scrapped. She says everyone who has been caught should get their money back.
She said: “I don’t know how they’ve been able to get away with this so long. They shouldn’t be allowed to operate in a hospital environment.
“If they had their cameras there without having the correct permission then how dare they fine poor people who are having to attend hospital through no fault of their own.
“They should be made to give people their money back. They never had the right to be there at the time, so they have no right to fine people.”
In November 2014 Carol Jackson had spent a fortnight visiting her sick mother.
One one visit the 63-year-old from Marsden, South Shields, paid her £2.40, to cover her for two hours of visiting, but never received a receipt due to a broken machine.
Husband Edward Jackson also spent weeks contesting the fine before being told his wife did not have to pay.
He said: “It’s just shocking that they’ve been allowed to operate like this. They should have their own house in order before they start having a go at other people. I am even more pleased that I carried with the appeal and I won.
“I know a lot of people just pay up straight away because they get worried, but I am glad we stuck with it. At the time they technically had no right to be fining people.”