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If The Stirrer believes in anything, it's standing up and saying your piece, and that's exactly what our writer Lynn Hawthorne did when she took on the might of the Lidl supermarket chain and their parking rules after being fined £50. Her crime was to overstay her welcome because she was ill. Here's her account of a famous victory.

Some of you may remember my article a couple of weeks ago (LIDL SO AND SO'S) about the ‘parking charge' I received from the LIDL supermarket in West Bromwich, where I overstayed my welcome after being taken ill at the Jobcentre.

Well, I have good news! LIDL…well, actually Total Parking Solutions, the company which operates the parking system….has decided to drop the charge “after reviewing the data and in view of the representations made in connection with this issue.” Hurrah! That was in one letter I received this morning and, in another envelope, they returned my building society cheque with which. Fabulous.

How did this come about? The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that ‘representations' was plural, which is because my local councillor decided to bat on my behalf as well (three cheers for Elaine Costigan of Wednesbury North!) and the case attracted the attention of a number of other councillors and an MP.

Please don't get me wrong: I pay my dues to society and didn't try to get out of this because I didn't want to pay up (though fifty quid is fifty quid, especially this close to Christmas and in my precarious financial position). What I wanted to do was plead extenuating circumstances with a human being and have a sensible discussion around it, but because of the policy of LIDL to be ex-directory, this was not possible. I wrote to them as I was advised to do and they have failed to answer, despite being given my address, landline ‘phone number, mobile number and e-mail address. It was TPS that responded and to them, I am grateful.

I didn't deliberately bring in the ‘heavies', either; it just so happens that I know them and they offered to help, because they were as concerned as me about the lack of engagement LIDL has with the public and with the amount of personal information which was made freely available by the DVLA. So much data is exchanged about us on a daily basis without our knowledge or our permission that is easy to see where life-changing miscarriages of justice may occur and this has started to worry me deeply.

In the end, I'm glad I made a fuss about the situation and bought it to public attention and here I have also The Stirrer and The Express & Star to thank for covering the story with so much vigour and determination. It seems that one of my messageboard correspondents was right when he said that negative publicity was a powerful tool, as is getting as many people as possible to complain about situations. It seems to help if some of the complainants have titles, such as Councillor or Member of Parliament, but it also shows that persistence does, indeed, pay off.

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©2006 The Stirrer