London drivers stung with bills for ‘free’ valet parking

Image copyright Geoff Lemon Image caption Signs at some roads near the British Army Museum are able to give away valet parking for as little as £3

Drivers have been stung with bills for parking at at least 10 sites in London’s Green P lanes – despite them having ‘free’ branded signs.

Some signs are able to give away valet parking for as little as £3, but the gates charge £5.50 a day.

On some Green P streets they come with their own number plates, like used car adverts.

Officials for the Land Registry are looking into how such barriers can be spotted by drivers.

Many were concerned they should not be allowed to charge people, says BBC’s Jerry Chauffeur.

Car owners who sign up for valet parking – a service which is required by the Department for Transport (DfT) – must pay for parking at home, but have the letters valet and the code R21 embossed on their vehicle licence.

There are signs at a number of sites across London

Image copyright Geoff Lemon Image caption Many drivers using these signs received warning letters from the Land Registry

The registration can be spotted as a number plate surrounded by letters, and may say ‘privilege valet’ or ‘free valet’.

Drivers are not aware they have to sign up for valet parking at any of the sites near the British Army Museum, Royal Geographical Society or Museum of London, until they receive a letter from the Land Registry saying they have been charged for parking.

The Land Registry said: “We are concerned to learn that some valet signs advertising valet parking are appearing on Green P laybys.

“We would like to know how they are so easily spotted. The technology to measure valet signs has been available since 1998.

“We would also ask that the signs used only provide information about valet parking facilities on-site.”

Image copyright Land Registry Image caption Vehicles with these ‘free valet’ signs also come with their own number plates

There are signs near several famous London attractions, and vehicles have raised concerns about infringement on their privacy, which they don’t have the right to.

A Land Registry spokesperson said: “The exclusive ownership of signs is due to the limited availability of companies which can produce this technology.

“The majority of these signs do not advertise Valet Parking on the title, but are intended to display for warning purposes only.

“As this technology is restricted in its availability, new Valet Signs do not appear at new Land Registry signposts.”

The Land Registry added that it had contacted the Valet Parking Association to ask about these particular signs, and said it was worried these technology could be used to steal vehicles.

“However, we would need to see more examples of Valet Parking signs on these limited signposts to be able to comment further,” it said.

“We will continue to monitor this practice and will take whatever action we deem appropriate in line with our legal obligations.”

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