When Market Harborough-based football coach Scott Baines got a parking fine in February, he simply didn’t believe it.
The letter from the London Borough of Hillingdon said Scott’s car had been parked illegally outside a school in Hayes, west London.
“Can’t be me” Scott had thought. “I was coaching in Finland at the time – the letter must be a con or a mistake.”
But it wasn’t either. Photographic evidence clearly showed 34-year-old Scott’s BMW parked within a school’s “keep clear” zone on Pinkwell Lane, Hayes on Wednesday, February 7.
Scott checked his diary again. No, the football coach who works in Britain and abroad for Market Harborough’s Football Development Schools, was definitely abroad at the time, coaching a team in Finnish Lapland.
Lapland is more than 2,000 miles from Hayes, or 37 hours in the car (including ferry crossing).
And then it dawned on Scott what must have happened.
“I’d left my car with a ‘meet and greet’ firm, one of those who pick it up at the airport and are supposed to park it up for you. I realised that someone from the firm must have been driving my car around while I was away.
“There’s even CCTV footage from Hillingdon council that shows a man dropping his kids off at a school, using my car while I’m away. That’s what made me so annoyed – that some man is driving his kids around in someone else’s car.”
Scott contacted the firm he used – called Central Airport Parking, Heathrow.
“I told them one of their drivers had got a parking ticket while using my car for his own kids.
“He said ‘No-no-no, we don’t do that – we don’t even let our drivers go to McDonalds’.
“I said I had photographic evidence, which I sent them.
“Then he rang back saying ‘just send me the penalty and we will pay it’.”
The Mail tried unsuccessfully to contact Central Airport Parking, Heathrow. But an ITV reporter was told, earlier this week that the company no longer existed.
Scott no longer uses them. He says: “These meet and greet companies are completely unregulated.”