Trading Standards and Citizens Advice tackle private car parking problems
27th October 2014
The Highland Council's Trading Standards Officers are backing local Citizens Advice Bureaux in their campaign to ensure that Highland consumers get a fair deal over private car parking. Both agencies have seen an increase in consumer complaints about private parking in recent times, with a range of problems being encountered by motorists, as David MacKenzie, Team Leader at Highland Council Trading Standards explained:
"Sometimes the problem is poor signage resulting in drivers being unaware of large penalty charges and the scale of such charges can also be controversial. Other problems we've seen include parking charges being wrongly called a "fine", and inappropriate and harassing debt collection activities. The range of car park types is also wide: specialist private car parks, retail parks and individual retailers’ premises, e.g. supermarkets"
While many private car parks operate fairly and effectively, elsewhere problems persist and Trading Standards and the CAB are keen to hear about the experiences of consumers in the Highlands. Advice and assistance are also available to help resolve consumers’ individual disputes.
Alasdair Christie, Manager of Inverness, Badenoch & Strathspey CAB commented: “We thought this was an issue consigned to the past in Highland; however it appears to be back in the spotlight once more. We welcome the Citizens Advice Scotland campaign as an opportunity to gather information on poor practices in the private parking sector and we encourage people who have experienced issues to complete the online survey (www.surveymonkey.com/s/itsnotfine).
We would urge people who are worried about this issue, perhaps because they have received a letter demanding an unreasonable “fine” be paid, to visit the CAB for advice and assistance. Alternatively, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”
The eight Highland CABs work closely with the Council’s Trading Standards team on consumer matters in an initiative known as the “Highland Consumer Partnership”.
David MacKenzie continued: “The CABs alert us to the consumer problems being encountered by their clients and we then take action, either working with businesses to ensure compliance or taking action against rogue traders. Either way, the aim is to get a fair deal for consumers and this Autumn the Highland Consumer Partnership is taking a close look at private car parking”.
Trading Standards are stressing that to be sure of staying inside the law, car park operators should:
· Display signs in clear, plain language throughout the site, including at all entrances
· Not imply that any charges are “fines” or similar
· Use only fair conditions, e.g. any penalty charges should not be disproportionate
· Use debt collection procedures that are fair and fully in line with Scots law and practice
Campaign website: www.cas.org.uk/itsnotfine
Highland Councillors considered Scottish Government's proposals for changes to the management of schools at today's meeting of the Council. The Scottish Government is proposing new legislation on education, which would include a Headteachers Charter, placing even more responsibility and accountability for the running of schools on Headteachers, with other responsibilities passing to a new collaborative organisation covering Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Shetland, Orkney, Western Isles, Argyll and Bute as well as Highland.
Maps of the Council's gritting routes by priority and policy are available online at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting The information provided is a summary of reports from operational staff and is intended to give a general indication of typical conditions in each area at a point in time. It is not intended to imply that any individual route is entirely snow and ice free and drivers must be aware that conditions can change rapidly and make their own assessment of conditions for travelling.
The Highland Council today welcomed the proposal by the Scottish Government to establish a national not-for-profit energy company and agreed to make a case for the proposed company to be based in the Highlands. The motion, put forward by Cllr Richard Laird and Cllr Iain Cockburn, sets out the belief that Highland customers do not always experience the benefits of the energy produced in our communities and therefore proposes that the Council engage with the Scottish Government to make the case for the energy company to be based in the Highlands, where much of the energy is produced, and bringing jobs and benefits to the region.
The Highland Council has agreed to set up a tourism working group to take a strategic overview and set priorities to support the success and growth of tourism in the Highlands. The Council has also agreed to identify financial support that allows EventScotland and their partners to bid for future major International events to be hosted in Highland.
The Highland Council is reassuring people in the region that since Storm Caroline and the arrival of winter weather to the region, the Council's Community Services has been deploying all of its available resources to tackle the condition of Highland Council pavements and roads. The Council's gritting fleet includes 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors and over 200 staff providing winter maintenance services.
Budget update Council will today consider a potential budget gap of £33.5 million in the next financial year in 2018-19. It will take several days to achieve clarification of the precise settlement to The Highland Council following the Scottish Government's draft budget announcement.
Maps of the Council's gritting routes by priority and policy are available online at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting . The information provided is a summary of reports from operational staff and is intended to give a general indication of typical conditions in each area at a point in time.
With Storm Caroline hitting the Highlands yesterday, today's heavy snowfall and the forecast for a drop in temperatures over the next 48 hours, the Highland Council's crews and winter vehicles have been busy in action. The fleet includes 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors and over the coming months 200 plus staff will be providing winter maintenance services.
Wick Campus, including Wick High School, Newtonpark Primary School and High Life Highland Leisure facilities will remain closed on Friday 8 December 2017. The closure is due to high winds during Storm Caroline today which caused some damage to part of the roof of the Wick campus gym, causing the metal flashing around a roof light to become detached.
Following the high winds forecast and experienced this week due to Storm Caroline, The Highland Council is encouraging landowners to check trees and vegetation near to public roads which may have been damaged. Roads affected by fallen trees this morning were near Beauly; Achnagarron near Invergordon and Lochaber which staff are clearing.
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