A dedicated enforcement team has been set up to tackle the problem of cars being parked obstructively by rogue airport ‘meet-and-greet’ companies during the school summer holidays.
The cowboy firms advertise online, promising ‘secure’ parking for holidaymakers – but in reality, vehicles are often dumped on the streets of Woodhouse Park, in Wythenshawe, blocking junctions, driveways, paths and bus stops and making it difficult for residents to feel safe on the roads.
The council has written to around 6,500 households and also primary schools in the area, asking them to report any issues experienced so that the dedicated enforcement team can take action.
Residents are asked to call the Council on 0161 234 4199 if a vehicle is parked on double yellow lines; if a road crossing is blocked where there is a dropped kerb; if their driveway is completely blocked (where a dropped kerb has been provided by the Council or Wythenshawe Community Housing Group), or if a bus stop is blocked. Where there is a confirmed case, the Council has powers to take enforcement action, which could include towing the vehicle away.
If a parked vehicle blocks a path or grass verge and makes it hard for pedestrians to pass, residents should contact Greater Manchester Police, on 101.
One rogue company has already been successfully prosecuted by the council’s Trading Standards team for an offence under Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and is due to be sentenced in August 2018.
People flying from Manchester Airport are strongly urged to do their research and seek positive reviews from trustworthy sources before handing over their car keys to a meet-and-greet company. They are also advised to request evidence from the company of where the car will be parked during their holiday.
Manchester council is currently working with Manchester Airport and other local authorities to develop a ‘Buy With Confidence’-accredited scheme, which will encourage legitimate meet-and-greet operators to sign up to meeting specified customer service standards, helping holidaymakers to identify firms which genuinely offer secure, safe parking options.
There have been several instances of companies claiming to be officially linked to Manchester Airport - sometimes even using its logo illegally - and so customers are urged to check the validity of any such claims made online.
Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, said: “The situation caused by cowboy ‘meet and greet’ companies in Woodhouse Park cannot be allowed to continue and we will do everything in our power to tackle the activities of these rogue firms.
“The cowboys are deceiving their customers and endangering our residents by parking vehicles hazardously. We share local anger at their blatant disregard for people’s safety.
“Holidaymakers who believe that these companies are providing secure parking for their cars will doubtless be shocked to learn the truth. Through our dedicated enforcement approach, we will be gathering intelligence to inform our next steps against the rogue firms.”
Tricia Williams, Chief Operating Officer of Manchester Airport, said: “Passengers have a wide range of choices when it comes to travelling to and from Manchester Airport and, aside from our own meet and greet products, there are a number of reputable operators that deliver a good, safe and secure service to those who book with them.
“However, passengers deserve not to be misled by a minority of companies falsely claiming to be linked to Manchester Airport, or that handle their vehicles badly and park them illegally.
“Families living near to the airport also deserve not to have their lives disrupted by cars being parked across driveways, in bus stops or on double yellow lines near to their homes.
“That is why we support this enforcement action, while continuing to work with Manchester council on the creation of a “Buy With Confidence” scheme that will help customers make informed choices about which company they choose to book with.”