Lancs third year paid £435 in parking fines after debt collectors were sent after him
He had been told by other students that it would be okay to leave the fines
A Lancaster Uni third year was forced to pay £435 for three parking tickets he received on Lancaster University campus, after debt collectors were sent after him.
After receiving the parking tickets, the student left the fines unpaid as older students, who had previously faced parking fines, assured him the university did not take action against students for leaving them unpaid as the parking space was allegedly "private land". This meant students assumed the university would have to take them to court to get them to pay the fines, and therefore did not pay them.
The student told The Lancaster Tab: "I ignored my tickets because I was told by various PhD students and students who received tickets last year that the uni doesn't chase you up. It was then sold to debt collectors."
After receiving a letter from debt collectors, the student called the university who explained there was a new policy regarding parking fines. The third year said: "Once finding out about the debt collectors I rang up the uni and the woman I spoke to said it was a new policy to send debt collectors for outstanding fines. It isn't good how the uni didn't give us any information on cracking down on parking and the parking is a complete joke."
He continued: "I felt betrayed, there wasn't any warning. Uni is supposed to protect students and it felt as though they sold me out to make an example basically.
"If I'd had clear communication that their policy was changing and I still risked it I could live with it, but when it's just rumours until the bill lands at your front door, it comes across very sly even if not meant that way."
At Lancaster Uni there are parking spaces, but a permit must be paid for and displayed. However the university website states "students are not normally allowed car parking permits to park on campus." The permits cost between £137-£174 per year, to find out if you're eligible you can find out here.
If a student parks in central areas of the university, such as Bowland and County colleges, drivers must pay for a £5 ticket for the day. Another option is parking at the sports centre at the bottom of the university hill, which is free for two hours, but after this time period the car must be moved or you face a parking fine.
A final, desperate option students face is parking their cars at the bottom of Pendle hill (far from the majority of lectures) on Hazelrigg Lane. Cars parked there have been flooded and written off, ticketed by police for obstructing the road and vandalised. But, at least it's free.
Many off-campus students face the daily challenge of getting the bus, walking, biking or driving in from the city centre. The buses, especially for 9am lectures, are full to the brim and can be unreliable, resulting in students often missing or being late for lectures and seminars.
The majority of student drivers simply risk getting fines and some have been given three or four parking fines, costing £45 if they are paid within 14 days and £75 afterwards.
Lancaster University released a statement surrounding the parking fines, commenting: "Unpaid Parking Charge Notice (PCN) debt is managed by our contractor, First Parking, which is an approved operator of the British Parking Association (BPN) of which Lancaster University is also a member. They follow the BPA’s regulatory guidance on the payment process and debt recovery.
"First Parking appoint and work with their chosen debt collection agency on cases where the offender has outstanding unpaid debt with First Parking. The University has no direct involvement in passing cases onto a debt collection agency (we only authorise First Parking when they wish to take outstanding debt cases to court). The University makes no payment or instruction to any debt collection agency."