A LEGAL dispute has arisen between NCP and Worthing Borough Council after the parking company claimed it was owed £600,000 in compensation.
NCP would not discuss the legal claim, but the council said it related to the introduction of revised short-stay parking tariffs, which were first introduced in Worthing’s car parks in November, 2009, for what it asserts was a 12-month trial.
At the time, cabinet members agreed to pay for half of the losses the NCP would incur during the year-long period.
However, council leader Paul Yallop said NCP was claiming compensation for the full four-and-a-half-years since the parking was introduced.
News of the legal claim comes less than two months after the council decided not to renew NCP’s contract for Worthing’s car parks, which had been in place for the last 10 years.
Cllr Paul Yallop, Worthing Borough Council leader, said: “I am extremely disappointed our relationship with NCP is ending acrimoniously.
“I had meetings with the chief executive of NCP when this was agreed and it was all very clear what we were talking about at the time, but now they’re saying something very different. I just can’t believe it. It’s tax-payer money and it’s not acceptable at all.
“We are making every effort to protect taxpayer money and are seeking to resolve the matter with NCP.”
The trial 30, 60 and 90-minute parking tariffs were first introduced in November, 2009, on the back of complaints about the £2.90 minimum charge to use Worthing’s car park for two hours.
Because of the financial loss the trial was expected to cause the NCP, council members agreed to pay half the cost of this loss for the 12-month period, up to £152,000.
The council asserts the compensation it owed was for that year alone – something NCP disputes.
An NCP spokeswoman said: “We do not believe it is appropriate or usual for legal disputes to be litigated through the press.
“This matter is currently subject to legal proceedings and NCP is not therefore able to make a public response through the media. We have every confidence in leaving this matter with the courts to resolve.”
The decision to bring parking back in-house followed impassioned pleas by traders calling on the council to bring parking tariffs in line with other towns in Sussex.
However, Cllr Alan Rice, leader of Worthing’s Liberal Democrats, said the council “doesn’t appear to be able to read a simple legal document and understand its content”.
Mr Yallop said he would now contact the Local Government Association to see if other local authorities had faced similar problems with NCP.
He will also call on help from the area’s MPs.
Details of the council’s planned parking arrangements have not been finalised, but it is understood there will be a significant reduction to the tariffs.
Under the new plans, the council will regain control of Worthing’s car parks from April, 2014.