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Crackdown on rogue firms to eliminate unfair parking fines

New rules for private car parks will crack down on rogue firms and help eliminate unfair fines for drivers.

Parking ticket

The proposals could see drivers able to appeal fines and have them reduced to a maximum of £20 or overturned completely

The new proposals, discussed late last year and now being set out, could introduce a 10-minute grace period before a late fine can be issued.

The plans also include the creation of a mandatory single Appeals Service and Appeals Charter for motorists to turn to if they are unfairly fined. This could see motorists 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, or if they’ve made a keying error. The proposals would also take account if the driver has 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 – lower than the current £100 limit. But the maximum fine would increase to £120 for drivers who wrongly park in disabled bays or ambulance bays.

They would also introduce a requirement for parking firms to clearly display pricing and terms and conditions, while there would be a crackdown on parking firms using aggressive or pseudo-legal language to intimidate motorists into paying fines.

While the changes have long been called for by motoring organisations, their timing is pertinent as local authorities look to incentivise drivers to return to high streets to support local businesses, including removing the fear of unfair parking tickets.

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.”

The proposals would be supported by a new Code and Enforcement Framework, which would be mandatory. 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 charges through the post.

The proposals have been widely greeted.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Research from the RAC suggests trust in private parking companies is at rock bottom, so there is little doubt about the need for reform. This single code of practice is promising first step towards a fairer, more transparent system that will ultimately bring better standards for drivers using private car parks, and hopefully spell the end of the worst of the cowboy tactics employed by some operators. It’s also positive to see a tiered system which varies charges by seriousness of misdemeanour as drivers often feel parking charge notices are not always proportionate.

“Alongside this, there is a strong need for a single national appeals system that is wholly independent. Such a scheme can provide absolute clarity for drivers who wish to appeal against a perceived unfair parking charge.”

The consultation for the new Parking Code of Practice is on the BSI website and runs until 12 October.

The consultation for the new Parking Enforcement Framework is on the GOV.UK website and also runs until 12 October.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.