New crackdown on private car parking firms will eliminate unfair fines

Unfair private parking tickets will be eliminated through the introduction of new rules for private car parks, the Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP has announced.

Yesterday, the Government put forward proposals designed to crack down on rogue car parking firms that will form part of a new Parking Code of Practice and Framework.

The proposals include a maximum cap for parking fines, a 10-minute grace period before a late fine can be issued, and a requirement for parking firms to clearly display pricing and terms and conditions.

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 by eliminating the fear of being penalised with an unfair parking ticket.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP 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.”

Fresh measures proposed in the new Code and Framework include the creation of a mandatory single Appeals Service and Appeals Charter for motorists to turn to if they are unfairly fined. Under options set out in the Appeals Charter, motorists could be able to 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 consultations also propose:

  • A new, tiered approach to parking fines with a cap for less serious offences between £40 and £80 depending on the parking charge system chosen (but both lower than the current £100 cap), and a new, increased fine of up to £120 for drivers who wrongly park in disabled bays or ambulance bays

  • A compulsory 10-minute grace periods before firms can issue a late fine

  • A compulsory 5-minute cooling-off period in which a motorist can consider the terms and conditions and change their mind about parking

  • A crackdown on parking firms using aggressive or pseudo-legal language to intimidate motorists into paying fines

  • A requirement for parking firms to clearly display pricing and terms and conditions of parking, contact details and how to appeal a charge.

High Streets Minister Simon Clarke MP said:

“We want to get people back onto the high street to shop local and support small businesses, and these proposals mean motorists will be able to do so without having to worry about being landed with an unjust ticket and no way to appeal.
“These measures will drive up standards in the parking industry by clamping down on rogue operators and offering a safety net so that responsible motorists who make an innocent mistake are not penalised unfairly for doing so.”

Unlike existing voluntary codes set by industry, the new Code and Enforcement Framework will 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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