Major new parking law changes could be delayed after backlash – ‘How can that be right?’

Rip Off Britain: Lawyer Gary Rycroft gives tips on parking tickets

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In February, the Government announced plans to implement a new Code of Practice that would crack down on cowboy private car parking firms. The new Code would cut fines by up to 50 percent in most areas across England, Wales and Scotland.

Despite this, a number of parking firms launched legal action to challenge proposed caps on the amounts they can charge motorists for suspected infringements of parking regulations on private land.

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities unveiled plans to reduce parking fine charges for drivers and make appeals simpler.

Typically, fines would be capped at £70 outside of London, and £130 in the capital, with an early payment discount of 50 percent.

However, the industry is not happy with the tariffs or the way they were arrived at.

According to the RAC Foundation, the Government has accepted that it needs to formally set out its analysis of the implications of these limits on business in an impact assessment.

In the 2019-20 financial year, private parking firms sought a record 8.4 million sets of vehicle keeper data from the DVLA with which to pursue penalties of up to £100. 

The data suggests that as many as 16 penalties could be being issued every minute, day and night.

In 2020-21, despite the impact of Covid on travel and traffic, 4.4 million sets of records were still requested.

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Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, commented on the situation, saying drivers would be hit hardest if the changes were delayed.

He said: “If the private parking industry had been as willing to progress these important reforms as it is to issue tickets we’d probably have the new system up and running by now. 

“As it is motorists face yet another round of consultation and can only hope that doesn’t lead to further delay.

“Frankly players in the private parking industry might yet come to regret challenging the plans to reduce the caps on parking charges because the evidence could well lead ministers to conclude they were previously being too generous.

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“Can it really be the case that more than eight million drivers set out knowingly to risk a penalty currently of up to £100, or is the vast number of keeper detail requests from private parking companies evidence of a system that is crying out for reform?

“Surely the ideal would be for no one to infringe the parking rules, intentionally or otherwise, yet the private parking industry’s determination to fight over the level of charges suggests that this would fundamentally undermine a business model that’s dependent on penalty income – how can that be right?”

The proposals unveiled by the DLUHC proposed a maximum cap for parking fines, a 10-minute grace period before a late fine can be issued, and a requirement for clear terms and conditions.

Private firms which breach the new Code could even be barred from collecting fines from motorists at all.

Edmund King, President of the AA, said: “These much needed upgrades to private parking rules will give better protection to drivers. 

“For too long, those caught by private parking firms simply pay the charge to get rid of it. Thankfully these days are numbered.

“Drivers should feel confident that having a single Code of Practice and a new Appeals Charter will give them confidence to appeal and be properly heard. 

“We are also pleased that honest mistakes, like mistyping the car registration into the machine, will now be automatically cancelled.”

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