Owners fined for allowing muddy field to be used for Gatwick meet and greet

If you thought the incident last month in which more than 1,000 meet and greet cars were found parked in a muddy field was a one-off, you’d be wrong.

Reigate & Banstead Borough Council has successfully prosecuted the owners of another muddy field after they allowed it to be illegally used for parking more than 500 meet and greet cars.

The owners of the field, Mr and Mrs Flitton, allowed Britannia Airport Parking (aka Easy Parking Gatwick) to use the muddy field as a car park for their Gatwick meet and greet parking business. However, the car park was unauthorised and a temporary stop notice was served on the owners of the field, requiring the parking to stop immediately, but they did not comply.

Councillor Mark Brunt, chairman of Reigate & Banstead’s planning committee, said: “This was a very serious breach of planning rules which we will not tolerate in our borough. The owners of the land did not have planning permission to use the field for the purpose of allowing commercial parking and, having ignored our enforcement notices, we had no choice but to take legal action against them.”

Mr David Flitton and Mrs Eliza Flitton of Baleene, Harrowsley Green Lane, Horley, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a Temporary Stop Notice at Redhill Magistrate’s Court on 7 June 2016.

The land owners were prosecuted under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and fined £4,675 with an additional £100 costs. 521 vehicles were parked in breach of planning control.

To ensure that your car doesn’t end up in a muddy field, make sure you book your meet and greet parking with a Gatwick Approved Operator.

As part of the criteria required to become approved, meet and greet parking companies must only use Park Mark awarded car parks and have the Trading Standards’ Buy With Confidence award.

Only 12 meet and greet parking companies are approved by Gatwick Airport, they are:

Police investigates Gatwick Sky Parking

Sussex Police is investigating yet another non-approved Gatwick meet and greet parking company following complaints of damage to customers’ cars, the BBC reports.

Many customers of Gatwick Sky Parking, who reported deep scratches and vehicles covered in mud, have been left facing bills totaling thousands of pounds to repair.

On its website, Gatwick Sky Parking offers to “take the hassle out of airport parking by meeting you at the airport and parking your car safely and securely for you” in its “secure compound”

However, Ian Mullen would disagree. He said work to repair the scratches would cost £7,000 and that both back doors and the driver’s seat was “caked in mud”. He told the BBC: “I’m almost certain it was not parked in a secure environment like they say it was with CCTV cameras etc., and I also have some deep suspicions it had been used by individuals.”

When Mr Mullen contacted me, he told me “42 cars were vandalised in a field behind a derelict pub mine being one of them. They told me they had obtained a crime Id. This was a lie. When I called Sussex police they had no reported crime.”

Another customer, Mirriam Nichols, said she faced a repair bill of more than £2,000 with four scratches on the bonnet.

Yet another customer who contacted Gatwick Blog, Shirley, said: “My vehicle is scratched all over and needs the passenger door repainted because of masses of scratches, along with the bonnet, also door window needs replacing because it us scratched to bits. The cost of repairs in excess of £600.”

Shirley, who booked her parking through the Mobit website, said of the site: “ It looks excellent and the description of service provided looked perfectly ok. I have used meet and greet many times and have never had this problem.”

When the BBC contacted Gatwick Airport about the issues with Gatwick Sky Parking, it said: “it had no relationship with Gatwick Sky Parking, the company was not part of its Approved Operator Scheme and it was therefore unable to comment further.”

While it’s too late to help Gatwick Sky Parking customers, anyone travelling from Gawick and wanting to book Gatwick meet and greet parking, should always use a Gatwick Approved Operator.

Gatwick Airport does have a list of approved operators, however, it isn’t easy to find – you’ll find the list here: www.gatwickairport.com/parking/other-parking-options/Operator-Scheme/

There are currently 12 Approved Operators, listed below:

  • ABC Gatwick
  • Airparks
  • Airport Parking & Hotels (APH)
  • Cophall Parking
  • ECO Parking
  • Help Me Park
  • I Love Meet & Greet
  • Just Valet Parking
  • Maple Manor
  • Meteor Meet & Greet
  • Ace Meet & Greet
  • Tudor Rose

For more information on the Gatwick Approved Operator Scheme check out one of our previous posts: 4-quick-tips-to-help-you-spot-a-reliable-gatwick-meet-and-greet-parking-company

RS09 car theft – why you should always use a Gatwick Approved Operator

Here’s why you should only use a Gatwick Approved Operator for your Gatwick meet and greet parking.

Book a non-approved parking company and you’re basing your decision on trust; you’re trusting that what the company says on its website is true – after all, there’s no industry accreditation proof to support their claims.

According to its website RS09 offers “the number #1 choice for Airport Parking in the Gatwick area”. However, all may not be as it appears on its website.

The BBC’s XRay programme, aired on Monday (23 February 2015) in Wales, revealed one very unhappy customer who returned home for his holiday in Spain to find that his car had been stolen from RS09’s car park.

The Burns family booked a week’s parking with RS09 in August last year however, when the family arrived back at Gatwick after their holiday, their car wasn’t there to meet them.

Here’s how events unfolded:

  • Mr Burns phoned RS09 and was told that his car wouldn’t start.
  • An hour later, still no car, so another call to the parking company, only to be told a lorry had to be brought in to start their car.
  • An hour later, still no car, only a phone call from RS09 asking Mr Burns what colour his car was.
  • FIVE hours after the Burns family arrived back at Gatwick, RS09 rang to inform the family that their car had been stolen.

Almost a month later, after spending more than £1,000 on car hire, Mr Burns was informed by the Police that his car had been found in a car park near Horsham.

This isn’t the first time the BBC has investigated RS09, nor is it the only non-approved Gatwick Operator to be investigated by the BBC for failing to live up to the promise of “secure parking”.

If you’re looking for safe, secure Gatwick meet and greet parking, you should always book with a Gatwick Approved Operator.

Reasons to book a Gatwick Approved Operator:

  • Their car parks have been inspected by the Police and awarded ParkMark approval – car parks are inspected annually to ensure standards are maintained
  • All employees are CRB checked and fully insured to drive your vehicle
  • Trading Standards has investigated the company and awarded them their Buy With Confidence award
  • Your car will be collected and returned to the terminal forecourt

Don’t forget, Gatwick Airport states on its website:

“Gatwick Airport strongly advise against using any parking supplier who is not an Approved Off-Airport Parking supplier as these other companies may not have any industry accreditation.”

Safe, secure Gatwick meet and greet

Want to book Gatwick meet and greet parking that meets Gatwick Airport’s and Tranding Standards’ high standards? Then book your parking with a Gatwick Approved Operator.

At the time of writing (25 Feb ’15) only the following companies are approved by Gatwick:

  • ABC Gatwick
  • Airparks
  • APH
  • Cophall Parking
  • Diamond Parking
  • ECO Parking
  • Help Me Park
  • I Love Meet and Greet
  • Just Valet Parking
  • Maple Manor
  • Meteor Meet and Greet
  • Ace
  • Tudor Rose

Trading Standards issues Gatwick meet and greet warning

West Sussex Trading Standards Service is advising customers of meet and greet airport parking companies to check the small print this Christmas.

Trading Standards has received complaints from customers who have experienced thefts from their cars, damage to their vehicles and excess mileage put on the odometer while their car has been in the care of some unscrupulous companies.

The advice being given is:

  • Check the company websites and make sure you know who you are dealing with. Legally, companies need to provide their name and address details on websites. If contact address details are missing, be extra cautious and consider booking with a different provider
  • Consider using a credit card to make your booking if the cost is more than £100 – this will give you extra protection should something go wrong
  • Most reputable companies will complete paperwork highlighting any damage to the vehicle at the time you drop it off. Take photos of all 4 sides of your vehicle when dropping it off to help avoid any disputes regarding damage to your vehicle when you return from holiday
  • Make a note of the mileage reading on your car when you drop it off
  • Do not leave any valuables or money in your vehicle whilst you are on your travels.

Lionel Barnard, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services with responsibility for trading standards said: “It’s important to say that the majority of people suffer a stress free experience when dealing with official and regulated meet and greet firms.

“There are so many things to arrange when you are going on holiday at Christmas time, any time for that matter, that it’s easy to look at car parking online and concentrate on price or availability rather than reading the small print.

“If you look closely some companies offering ‘meet and greet’ services do not have full contact details on their websites so you have no way of making contact if you have a complaint.

“In some cases claims of secure parking can actually mean a field or a street near to the airport.

“Our advice is to use the official airport car parking facilities or use a ‘meet and greet’ service provided by our ‘Buy With Confidence’ trading standards approved business.”

West Sussex Trading Standards operates the Buy With Confidence scheme (BWC), a trade approval scheme, where all members are vetted and approved by the service. In relation to meet and greet companies, BWC means that their parking compounds have been checked and are all secure.

Visit the BWC website to find out which meet and greet operators are part of BWC – Gatwick postcode is RH6 0NP (South Terminal)

The Gatwick Airport website has a list of Gatwick Approved operators. The meet and greet companies listed on the Gatwick Airport website will all be members of BWC and their parking compounds will also all have the Park Mark award.

4 quick tips to help you spot a reliable Gatwick meet and greet parking company

Have the recent problems with Gold Parking and EPS Parking deterred you from using Gatwick meet and greet parking?

Don’t be put off from using such a convenient service, just learn to look for the tell-tale signs that identify reputable companies.

Here are four quick things to look for – no reading required (unless you want to) the images say it all:

Buy With Confidence logo

Buy with Confidence logo
Trading Standards approved businesses Buy With Confidence logo signifies you are dealing with a reputable local businesses checked by Trading Standards

ParkMark logo

ParkMark logo
Managed by the British Parking Association, the Safer Parking ParkMark logo identifies companies whose parking facilities have been vetted and approved by the police.

Gatwick AOS

Gatwick Approved Operator Scheme logo
Introduced in July 2013, the Gatwick Airport Approved Meet and Greet Operator Scheme identifies companies that have proved that they can provide a high level of professionalism and service.

Gatwick Airport strongly advises against using any parking supplier who is not an Approved Off-Airport Parking supplier.

https:

https secure server logo

When paying for your parking online, make sure the website is using industry-standard SSL encryption software that encrypts all your card details and personal information. You’ll be able to recognise a secure page by the prefix https:// or a green address or the padlock in the bottom right-hand corner of your browser window.

If you spot the above four images on your chosen company’s website then you should be dealing with a reputable company.

Need extra assurances?

If you want to double-check the company’s credentials to ensure that what they claim is correct, then visit the following sites:

  1. To check Buy With Confidence status click here  – select ‘airport parking’ as business type
    Gatwick Airport’s postcode is RH6 0NP
  2. To double check that your chosen company has ParkMark visit the ParkMark page and search using the postcode of the company.
  3. To view Gatwick Approved Operators click here

The above information was provided by Help Me Park, a Gatwick Approved meet and greet parking operator, with Buy With Confidence status.

EPS Parking fined over false Approved Operator claims

A Gatwick meet and greet parking company has been found guilty of making false claims about its business.

EPS Parking was fined £10,000 plus £2,683 costs, for breaching the Unfair Trading Regulations Act 2008.

The company was found to be falsely claiming to be a Gatwick Approved Operator, that it was Buy with Confidence accredited, had ParkMark approved car parks and a member of the British Parking Association.

Although EPS was originally a member of the Approved Operator Scheme, its membership had been withdrawn following complaints, but the company had still continued to advertise that it was an Approved Operator.

Lionel Barnard, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services with responsibility for Trading Standards, said: “I hope this sends a clear message that we will always act against people who claim to be part of the Buy With Confidence scheme who aren’t.

“The scheme exists precisely to protect people against this sort of underhand action and I am pleased that the magistrates on Friday saw fit to issue such a large fine.

“We would always encourage people to check the Buy With Confidence scheme to source reputable traders in the knowledge they have already been checked and vetted by us.”

Click on the following links for further information

A list of Gatwick Approved Operators

Gatwick parking companies holding ParkMark status

How long before Gatwick charges you to drop passengers off at the terminal?

If you’ve travelled through Gatwick Airport in recent months you’ll have seen some of the results of the airport’s £1.2billion investment programme: the new security search area in the South Terminal, forecourt improvements, a new shuttle station, lifts and escalators – the list goes on.

Since purchasing Gatwick Airport in December 2009, GIP has spent the best part of £1.2 trying to transform the airport in to the ‘London airport of choice’. The current spending plan is due for completion in 2014, while there’s another £1.5billion investment scheduled for the 2014-2020 period.

Yes, Gatwick is a vast improvement on its BAA days, but… it’s now time the airport started clawing back some of that investment.

The airport’s ‘user pays’ principle intends to recover some of its huge investment costs and Gatwick has now applied it to the airport’s infrastructure with the introduction of it’s Approved Operator Scheme for meet and greet parking companies.

Introduced on 10 July 2013, the Approved Operator Scheme was sold as a way to reduce forecourt congestion and ensure customers of meet and greet parking companies received a good level of service.

Up until 10 July, any company operating meet and greet parking at Gatwick was able to use the airport’s forecourts to collect and return customers’ vehicles free of charge. On 10 July, the airport introduced its Approved Operator Scheme which only permits Approved Operators to conduct meet and greets on the airport terminal, however, they have to pay for the privilege – £3 per transaction, adding £6 to the cost of each meet and greet parking booking. And there are time restrictions too – each transaction should take no more than 5 minutes! Originally, the airport had proposed a charge of £4 per transaction, however, this was reduced to £3 following feedback on the proposals.

To reduce costs, Approved meet and greet parking operators can use the multi-storey car parks with the following fees applied:

  • £1.30 per transaction (0-10 minutes)
  • £2.00 per transaction (10-20 minutes)
  • If the transaction takes more than 20 minutes, the regular tariff applies: currently, £3 for up to 30 minutes, £6 for up to an hour.

Companies, which are not approved operators, are not permitted to carry out meet and greets on the forecourt but must use the multi-storey car parks.

While it was intended that non-approved companies would have to pay the regular tariff, i.e. £3 per transaction (up to 30 minutes) the airport has decided to give these companies a 9-month period to meet the scheme’s criteria and therefore be subject to the reduced rate during this period.

Currently, only Approved meet and greet parking companies need to pay for forecourt usage, but is this just the start? Will Gatwick extend this to passenger drop-offs, including taxis? After all, Gatwick already has an approved taxi company, which pays a high proportion of its taxi fares to the airport.

Gatwick Airport Approved Operator to be introduced tomorrow, 10 July

Tomorrow, 10 July 2013, will see Gatwick Airport implement its surface access plan prohibiting  passenger pick ups from the airport’s forecourts.

The airport’s Approved Operator Scheme for meet and greet parking companies will also be introduced, which will mean changes for customers of some Gatwick meet and greet parking companies.

Only Approved Operators will be permitted to collect and return customers’ cars on the terminal forecourts, or from designated meet and greet areas of the multi-storey car park.

The Approved Operator Scheme, which is a joint venture between Gatwick Airport, Trading Standards and West Sussex County Council, will prohibit non-approved operators from collecting or returning customers’ vehicles on the Gatwick forecourts.

More information:

Gatwick Approved Operator Scheme – how it will affect meet and greet parking

Gatwick Approved Operator Scheme set to increase meet and greet parking prices

Gatwick Approved Operator Scheme for meet and greet parking companies

Gatwick Approved Operator Scheme – how will it affect your meet and greet parking?

Gatwick Airport’s Approved Operator scheme for meet and greet parking companies, which was due to be introduced on Monday, 1 July 2013, has now been delayed until Wednesday, 10 July. On the same day, the airport’s surface access plan, which will prohibit passenger pick-ups from the airport’s forecourts, comes in to force

What is the Approved Operator Scheme?
The Approved Operator Scheme is a joint collaboration with Trading Standards, West Sussex County Council and Gatwick Airport. It is designed to reduce terminal forecourt congestion and prevent rogue meet and greet parking companies from operating at Gatwick Airport.

What are the criteria for joining the scheme?
In order to be accepted into the scheme, meet and greet parking companies must:

  • Hold the British Parking Association ParkMark award for all car parks serving Gatwick
  • Have attained the Buy with Confidence accreditation from Trading Standards
  • Sign and operate within the terms of a licence agreement with the airport.

Where can Approved Operators operate?
Approved Operators can carry out meet and greet operations in specific areas of the terminal forecourts or in the dedicated meet and greet parking zones of the multi-storey car parks. Companies can choose to either:

  • Collect and return vehicles in the Approved meet and greet areas on the airport forecourts
  • Collect vehicles on the airport’s forecourt and return vehicles to customers in the meet and greet zone in the multi-storey car park
  • Collect and return vehicles in the dedicated meet and greet parking zone of the multi-storey car park.

The proposed forecourt areas are:

  • South Terminal
    The far end of the lower forecourt, both lanes
  • North Terminal
    Right hand lane of the outer forecourt

The proposed Approved Operator zones of the multi-storey car parks are:

  • South Terminal
    Ground floor of Car Park 3 (zones F-L)
  • North Terminal
    First floor of Car Park 6 (zones D and E).

The dedicated Multi-storey car park areas will be signed and identified with fins marked ‘Approved Operator only’ – similar to the disabled bay signage.

Where will non-Approved Operators collect and return cars?
Non-Approved meet and greet parking companies are being given time to obtain the necessary criteria to achieve Approved status and may pick up and return vehicles in the multi-storey car park, however, they are not permitted to use the dedicated meet and greet areas allocated to Approved Operators. Anyone who has a booking with a non-approved operator will need to contact their company to check where they will be met on or after 10 July.

Increase in meet and greet parking fees?
It’s extremely likely that the cost of meet and greet parking will increase due to the charges being levied by Gatwick on the Approved Operators. Some parking companies have already increased their charges by the amount Gatwick Airport is charging. Gatwick’s charges are based on vehicle movements and depend on where the meet and greet parking takes place:

  • Forecourt
    £3 per movement, i.e. £6 for a meet and greet
  • Multi-storey car park
    £1.30 per movement (up to 10 minutes)
    £2.00 per movement (10 – 20 minutes)
    Longer than 20 minutes and the regular tariff will apply

No doubt, non-approved parking companies will also have to increase their charges, as they will be forced to use the multi-storey car parks for their operations too.

How to spot Approved Operators
In order to become a member of the Approved Operator Scheme, meet and greet parking companies must obtain the ParkMark Safer Parking award and also Trading Standard’s Buy with Confidence award. Look for the following logos on Gatwick meet and greet parking company websites, which will help you identify Approved Operators:

ParkMark Safer Parking logo

ParkMark Safer Parking logo

Trading Standards Buy With Confidence logo

Surrey Trading Standards Buy with Confidence logo

Alternatively, Gatwick Airport lists the members of its Approved Operator Scheme on its website.

What to do if you’ve already booked meet and greet parking
It’s advisable to book with an Approved Operator as this signifies that the company is a reputable one that has been approved by Trading Standards and is parking your car in a safe, secure car park – not by the side of the road, or in a supermarket or industrial estate car park. You shouldn’t panic however, if you’ve already booked your parking, but you do need to check where you will be met on your arrival at Gatwick and on your return from holiday.

Approved Operators have already started to amend their websites and informing their customers if they are making changes to where they will be collecting and returning vehicles, but if you’re not sure, check your booking confirmation, or call the company you have booked with for further information.

The future of Gatwick meet and greet parking
While the new scheme may cause some confusion and, of course, extra costs to the customers of Gatwick meet and greet parking companies, hopefully, it should mean an end to rogue outfits setting up to take advantage of the seasonal high demand for meet and greet parking without having the necessary procedures, insurance and secure car parks in place to offer a high standard of service that the well-established Gatwick meet and greet parking companies offer.

If you have any concerns, contact your parking company, and also, leave a comment below.

Gatwick Approved Operator scheme set to increase meet and greet parking prices

In March of this year, Gatwick Airport unveiled plans to introduce an Approved Operator Scheme for meet and greet parking companies operating at Gatwick.

Hailed as a way to reduce forecourt congestion, banish rogue operators and ensure that customers of Gatwick meet and greet parking services received a good level of service, the initial consultation period ran until 12 April 2013.

The results of the consultation have been assessed and, as of 1 July 2013, Gatwick Airport will introduce its Approved Operator Scheme.

From 1 July, all only meet and greet operators will gain either Approved or Non-Approved status. Only Approved operators – companies that have met the required criteria – will be entitled to sign up to the Approved Operator Scheme and be permitted to operate on the airport’s terminal forecourts or within dedicated valet-drop-off areas of the multi storey car park.

The introduction of the scheme is seen as a way to ensure that only reputable, reliable meet and greet parking companies operate at Gatwick – all Approved meet and greet parking companies must:

  • Only use car parks that hold the ParkMark award – that is they have been approved by The Association of Chief Police Officers
  • All meet and greet staff must be CRB checked
  • All meet and greet valet parking companies must hold full insurance
  • All staff must be uniformed
  • All drivers must carry photo ID
  • All company vehicles must be liveried
  • All meet and greet operators must achieve and maintain the Buy with Confidence Accreditation.

Addition fees:

The downside of the approved operator scheme is, that in order for the airport to police the dedicated areas, the airport has added a surface access fee to each pick-up and drop-off made by an Approved parking contractor.

The following charges will be payable by Approved operators and depend on where the meet and greet parking takes place:

  • Forecourt
    £3 per movement, i.e. £6 for a meet and greet
  • Multi-storey car park
    £1.30 per movement (up to 10 mins)
    £2.00 per movement (10 – 20 mins)
    Longer than 20 minutes and regular tariff will apply

From 1 July 2013, Gatwick is also introducing a ‘no pick up’ policy at the airport, which will force all cars in to the multi-storey car parks. While the assumption will be that, after 1 July 2013, all meet and greet parking companies operating at Gatwick will be members of the Approved Operator Scheme, it’s worth pointing out that there will be companies operating at Gatwick who aren’t members.

If you book with a non-member they won’t be able to collect or return your vehicle to the terminal forecourt, or pick up and drop off your vehicle in the dedicated meet and greet zones of the multi-storey car park. All non-approved operators will be forced to use other areas in the multi-storey car park.