November 2014

26Nov

I went go karting last night, at the F1 Karting venue near Heathrow. We ran a single 25 minute session, with 10 drivers, and placings were based on our individual fastest laps. I had a few clear laps, and set a 23.513s, with a top speed of 42.1MPH. I came 3rd out of our group, and the fastest lap set was a 22.344s, which was a lot quicker than I could manage. My arms and shoulders were dead after 25 minutes. You forget how physical driving a kart can be. Great fun, but very tiring. Its an interesting venue, the karts are pretty quick, though a bit worse for wear from all of the abuse that they take. Mine had a severe wheel wobble, and hopped round some of the corners, but was still fast when given space to take the racing lines. Finally, I've re-joined Loughborough Car Club, in order to take part in tomorrow nights Warwick 100 12-Car rally, which starts near Coventry. My first time in the navigators seat in over 20 years, we're out in a Seat Leon, and I'll give a write up in the next day or so.

25Nov

Success with the dismissal of the parking charge notice served on my car back in October. Using the template from the MSE website, I wrote to the UKCPS firm who issued the charge, and they have 'as a gesture of goodwill, cancelled the charge'. This is Bull sh*t. There never was a contract in place between me and them, and I never incurred a penalty. You must defend yourself if you are issued with a charge, and never ever pay up. More details can be found here on the MSE website.

13Nov

I guess you may have noticed a distinct lack of updates recently. What with me working away from home on a project for the MoJ, and the purchase of a new house last year, thats certainly put paid to any chances of playing in the garage, or even on track. But I'm now planning a number of upgrades for the Fiesta, so I can have another year of events in 2015. First thing I need to do is upgrade the seat in the car. The Motordrive seat I currently sit on, was bought in 2001, and I want to replace it with a seat that provides additional head protection. So I'm shopping around at the moment, to see what deals can be struck. I'm also looking at getting the spare engine over to NHM for the build, and for next year I'm going to get a set of soft compund slicks, on the split rims, as the medium compound tyres are way too hard from cold. So I'll save those for track days. I'm taking part in a 12 Car in November, which will be my first time in the navigators seat for a very long time. Its a round of the Mercia 12 Car series, and starts in Coventry on the 26th, and I cant wait to see if I can still solve a herringbone or two. The night before I'm taking part in a 1 hour go kart race, with some friends, near Heathrow, which should be a lot of fun. I'm sure to take video and photos and I will defintely post some updates about it.

04Nov

My car picked up a parking ticket in September. Yep, never had one before, and the letter certainly took me by surprise. But when you read the letter, in fact its not a parking ticket at all. This is from a company who is contracted to manage the car park at the local leisure centre, and according to them my car was observed 'parking outside of a marked bay'. So this firm writes down the registration number of the car, applies to the DVLA to obtain the registered keepers name and address, and then sends off whats known as an NTK, or Notice To Keeper. They claim to have ticketed the car with a Parking Charge Notice (which they did not) and because you have ignored their first fine (£60) they now say that the registered keeper owes them £100.

So my first port of call was to google the parking company, and this actually took me to the Money Saving Experts website, which has a Forum Thread entirely dedicated to Parking Charge Notices from private car parks. I read the Newbies section, and discovered that there is a way of dealing with these sharks. The first thing is not to ignore the NTK. If you do, it will lead to more and more threatening and intimidating letters, at which point most people bow to the pressure and cough up. The fact is that the amount being charged, for allegedly parking outside of a marked bay, is not proportional to the expenses incurred in issuing the fine.

So from the MSE Forum, you download a document template, which spells out in legalese, that the firms approach is illegal, and that their fine is not in proportion to the so called crime, and that letter normally kills the paper trail at that point. They should back down. The theory is that your expenses incurred to research and investigate is more than or at least the same amount that they are demanding. So even if the case were to go to small claims court, I would be awarded my expenses, and they would lose out.

So the letter has been posted to them, and we shall wait and see what happens next. Bottom line is you must not pay these fines. They are produced by sharks, and a whole industry exists around issuing fines (which are nothing more than speculative invoices) and feeding off the confused, who just pay up. You dont need to pay anything. Just put a letter in the post, which is often enough to make them focus on others. If you have paid a parking fine and want your money back, I strongly encourage you to sign up to the site. This will increase everybody's chance of getting their money back. Please also spread the word by sharing on social media, telling your friends and family and directing people to the site. Visit www.challengethefine.com and register your details.