PARKING can be a contentious issue and it has proved to be so for patients of the Alpha dental practice in Northallerton.

You can’t fault the practice for wanting to improve the parking situation for its patients and if people respected the car park’s purpose in the first place then there would have been no need for monitoring company Smart Parking to be drafted in.

Nobody could have foreseen the nightmare that would entail, with countless innocent motorists being hounded by a debt recovery company for fines that should never have been issued.

Nobody wants debt letters and court threats through their door, least of all elderly and vulnerable people who may feel frightened and bullied into paying up.

Sadly these are the tactics used by many such companies and they can be difficult to hold to account.

It is especially difficult to endorse their methods when they are impossible to contact.

It is disappointing for Alpha that communication broke down after the Northallerton parking contract was suspended and it is disappointing that nobody from Smart Parking could explain the situation despite repeated requests from the Darlington and Stockton Times.

Mistakes are a part of life, we all make them, but to issue more than 80 fines incorrectly and then fail to rescind them despite being presented with evidence of legitimate parking is surely more than a mistake.

It is just plain wrong and hopefully Smart Parking will do its best in the coming weeks to put it right and put people’s minds at rest.