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Cap on private parking fines withdrawn

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A code of practice for private parking firms setting out a cap on fines and the introduction of an appeals system has been temporarily withdrawn.

The government has temporarily withdrawn the private parking code of practice “pending a review of the levels of private parking charges and additional fees”.

In February, proposals were put forward to limit most parking fines to £50, down from the current maximum level of £100. However, operators would still be able to give higher penalties for more serious breaches such as parking in ‘blue badge’ bays without a valid permit.

Firms would also have to include clear signage, compulsory grace periods for drivers and a ban on aggressive language on yellow parking slips “doctored to look like official penalty charge notices”.

Further, the new code would also allow drivers to challenge unfair fines through an independent appeals service.

The department for levelling up, housing and communities said private parking operators that did not follow the rules could be blocked from gathering details from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), essentially cutting off vital information allowing them to collect fines.

The code proposals follow years of complaints about unfair and extortionate charges, with data revealing private parking firms issue around 22,000 tickets a day.

At the time the proposals were published, minister for levelling up, Neil O’Brien, said: “Private firms often adopt a labyrinthine system of misleading and confusing signage, opaque appeals services, aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees designed to extort money from motorists.

“Apart from their inherent unfairness, these practices damage our high-streets, our towns and our city centres. We are determined to bring them to an end.”

However, it seems that following legal challenges by some private parking operators, the code has been temporarily withdrawn.

‘Drivers have a right to feel infuriated’

RAC head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, said: “The new private parking code of practice was designed specifically to make things fairer for drivers and end some of the worst practices in the sector. It’s deeply disappointing that the code has been temporarily withdrawn which now almost certainly means yet more delays in it being introduced. Drivers have a right to feel infuriated.

“The fact that parking companies take issue with the capping of charge notices and debt recovery fees shows precisely why both the code and the cap are needed. For too long, some companies have been allowed to prey mercilessly on drivers who might make an honest mistake and then have to face both over-zealous enforcement and threatening debt recovery letters. The government must stand up to these companies and get the code over the line so we finally have fair and transparent enforcement in the private parking sector.”

A department for levelling up, housing and communities spokesperson, said: “We’re determined to end rip-off parking practices, and it’s very disappointing that some in the parking industry are resisting this.

“We will continue to work with industry and consumer groups to introduce our new Parking Code of Practice as quickly as possible.”

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