National Trust member criticises new parking charges
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An incredible number of fines were handed out in the UK throughout 2021 by shameless private car parking companies. Some 22,000 of the fines were issued every single day by the firms as the Government prepares to launch a shake-up of the practice.
Four million drivers in the UK were hit with parking tickets between the months of April and September alone according to analysis of Government data.
Parking Charge Notices (PCNs) are issued by private firms for parking ‘offences’ on land such as retail parks and leisure centres.
The record numbers came despite there being fewer cars on the road than at pre-pandemic levels.
If the numbers persist across the year it will likely hit the previous record total of £8.4million in 2019/20.
Currently the maximum fine that can be levied is £100, however the Government will shortly launch an enquiry into the industry with a view to cutting that amount.
RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “The sheer volume of tickets being issued is a clear sign that something in the current system isn’t working.
“Few drivers intentionally break the rules and consequently get stuck with a bill for up to £100, particularly if they were dropping off parcel deliveries to an apartment block.
“Our advice to drivers is never ignore a parking charge notice. Read it carefully and, however strongly it’s worded, if it’s wrong, challenge it.”
Some 163 private firms requested car owner details from the DVLA in order to issue tickets.
The organisation charges £2.50 for each request but says it doesn’t make any profit from them.
Parkingeye was the biggest buyer with 900,000 requests.
Mr Gooding said: “If there is one sector of the economy which has been resilient during Covid then it is the private parking industry, which continues to attract new players and is on course to issue as many tickets to drivers this year as it did before the pandemic reached these shores.”
The new Government measures aimed at ensuring drivers aren’t mistreated by private parking firms are currently awaiting ministerial sign-off.
They include a Government-sanctioned code of practice, a single appeals service, and a system of charges and penalties more in line with those levied by councils.
The New Appeals Act will also introduce a ten-minute ‘grace period’.
However, eighteen months have already passed since the review was announced.
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 under certain circumstances.
Private parking firms would also be banned from using threatening language in communication.
In addition, they would have to clearly display pricing, terms and conditions, and where and how to appeal a fine.
High Streets Minister Simon Clarke MP said: “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.”
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