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Crackdown on rogue private parking firms

Written by: Emma Lunn
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick has put forward the proposals which will form part of a new Parking Code of Practice and Framework and stop car parking firms ripping drivers off.

Under the proposals, a new “appeals charter” will eliminate fines for motorists who make genuine errors or have mitigating circumstances.

Private parking companies will be stopped from issuing unfair parking tickets, while drivers will be allowed a 10-minute grace period before a late fine can be issued.

A 10-minute grace period was introduced for all council car parks in England in 2015, but it’s currently voluntary for private parking firms.

Drivers will also have a five-minute cooling-off period in which they can consider the terms and conditions and change their mind about parking.

The proposals also include a maximum cap for parking fines and a requirement for parking firms to clearly display pricing and terms and conditions.

The government says the new measures will be a major boost to millions of motorists in England, Scotland and Wales and will help to draw people back to their local high streets.

The proposed measures include the creation of a mandatory single Appeals Service and Appeals Charter for motorists to turn to if they are unfairly fined.

Under the rules, motorists could appeal their fine and see it reduced to a maximum of £20, or cancelled entirely if:

  • They have a mitigating reason for overstaying their parking ticket such as their vehicle breaking down
  • They have made a genuine innocent error, like keying in a digit in their number plate incorrectly
  • They have a valid ticket, permit or Blue Badge but failed to display it correctly

The consultation also proposes a new, tiered approach to parking fines with a cap for less serious offences of between £40 and £80 depending on the parking charge system chosen. The current cap is £100.

But there will be bigger fines of up to £120 for drivers who wrongly park in disabled bays or ambulance bays.

Jenrick said: “These new measures are a victory for the millions of motorists across the country. They will put a stop once and for all to rogue parking firms using aggressive tactics and handing out unfair parking tickets with no right to appeal, while also boosting our high streets by making it easier for people to park near their local shops without being unfairly fined.

“Our proposals will restore common sense to the way parking fines are issued, while cracking down on the worst offenders who put other people in danger and hinder our emergency services from carrying out their duties.”

Unlike existing voluntary codes set by industry, the new Code and Enforcement Framework would be mandatory and provide a single set of rules to follow.

Rogue firms which break the code could be barred from requesting Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data, making them unable to pursue motorists for their charges through the post.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The publication of the government’s consultation document alongside the BSI’s draft code of practice is a major milestone in bringing the provisions of Sir Greg Knight’s Parking Act to life.

“It is clearly important that we get the code of practice, and the framework within which it will sit, right, so I would encourage everyone with an interest to respond with their views.”

The Parking (Code of Practice) Act became law in March 2019 and builds on action the government has already taken to tackle rogue private parking firms, including banning wheel clamping and towing and stopping over-zealous parking enforcement by councils.

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