A NATIONAL motoring campaign group has slammed the £100 fines given to Radcliffe Metrolink park and ride users as “unlawful”.

The British Motorist Protection Association (BMPA) claims money is being wrongly demanded from people who left their cars overnight in the facility in Spring Lane.

It says Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is acting unlawfully by allowing private contractor Care Parking to issue invoices to people leaving their cars at the tram while trams are not running.

The association says this because all Metrolink parking is governed by byelaws under Point 14 of the Greater Manchester Light Rapid Transit System Act 1988.

Therefore, Metrolink should issue statutory parking fees using the byelaws, and not claim through the civil law by Care Parking’s fines.

Angus Gill, head of communications at the BMPA, said the £100 invoices drivers are receiving are also invalid due to the car park’s lack of signage meaning contracts with drivers were not formed.

He said: “Radcliffe Metrolink is a perfect example of poor practices being used in the UK parking industry by private companies.

“The lack of signs means it is unlikely any contract was formed so the ‘fines’ are complete invalid.

“This area is covered by Metrolink byelaws and so is not an appropriate area for this type of operation – a second major poor practice.

“One in every two tickets is cancelled at appeal for being without merit, so you can see how wide this abuse of the driver is.”

If drivers do not pay a civil fine invoice, firms are able to escalate the fine and pursue the registered keeper in order to make more money.

Campaigners from the BMPA are challenging the industry’s legal basis of these fines at the Court of Appeal.

Mr Gill added: “Statutory claims are superior to civil claims and should be applied for first — Metrolink is using the wrong law and is misusing it for financial gain.

“The issue where private parking companies “forget”

certain areas are governed by byelaws also applies to certain airports, railway stations and ports.”

The BMPA hopes to improve standards in the parking industry, pressing for fair and lawful means of redress should authorities and companies fail to abide by lawful process.

A spokesperson for TfGM said: “The arrangements with Care Parking, who are a British Parking Association approved contractor, are in line with industry practice and subject to the parking on private land appeals procedure.

“TfGM is satisfied there is nothing in the Metrolink byelaws which precludes us from utilising the services of companies such as Care Parking to enforce parking restrictions at our Metrolink car parks.”

■ For more information on the BMPA: go to bmpa.eu