Parking ticket warning: Major rise in fines handed to drivers

Martin Lewis explains council and private company parking fines

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Private car parking firms handed out more than 20,000 tickets per day in 2021. Despite coronavirus restrictions reducing the number of cars on the road, independent companies have cashed in on four million drivers in the past year. Though figures are tracking far behind those gathered for 2019 and 2020, concerning data suggests the possibility of further increases – and this is why.

How much have fines increased by?

British drivers are being handed an average of 22,000 parking tickets per day for parking on land such as retail parks and leisure centres.

Analysis of Government data has shown that between the months of April 2020 and September 2021, some four million Brits were hit with private parking fines.

Looking back at previous years, fines have increased drastically, with just 3.1 million drivers issued fines in 2014/15.

  • In 2015/16, this figure was higher by 600,000 at 3.7 million.
  • Fines reached 4.7 million in 2016/17, 5.7 million in 2017/18 and 6.8 million in 2018/19.
  • In 2019/20, the number of fines reached a staggering 8.4 million.

Why are parking fines on the rise?

For many, the rise in fines indicates the system is not working.

Figures from the RAC Foundation have found between April and June 2021 alone 159 companies asked for records from the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) to contact drivers about alleged parking infringements.

Looking at the same time frame in 2016, this is an increase of a staggering 64 percent.

Should this trend continue, we could see another figure close to the record high of 8.4 million set in 2019/20 by the end of the financial year.

With the maximum chargeable amount currently set at £100, the rise in tickets has left millions of drivers out of pocket.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The sheer volume of tickets being issued is a clear sign that something in the current system isn’t working.”

With fewer drivers on the road due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the increasing rates have put the system into stark focus.

Concerns over the justification of these fines to movement in Government back in August 2020, following the sharp peak of tickets being issued

What are the new Government measures?

The crackdown on private car parking firms announced in August 2020 is yet to come into force.

Despite having been proposed 18 months ago, the restrictions are still under review, though there are hopes that 2022 will see measures enforced.

The proposal included the following new elements:

  • A tiered approach to parking fines
  • A cap on less serious offences
  • Increased fines for drivers wrongly parked in disabled bays ro ambulance bays
  • A grace period of 10 minutes before firms can issue a late fine
  • A crackdown on parking firms using aggressive language to intimidate motorists
  • A requirement for parking firms to clearly display terms and conditions

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On the announcement of the new measures, the Government released the following statement: “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.”

The most notable changes will see a lowered cap on the maximum fine – reducing the existing £100 threshold to between £40 and £80 for less serious offences.

Furthermore, the requirement for parking firms to clearly display the following information will give drivers a clearer understanding of whether a ticket is justified:

  • Pricing
  • Terms and conditions of parking
  • Contact details
  • How to appeal a charge

Types of parking tickets

There are a number of types of parking tickets which can be issued to drivers in Britain.

The most common types include:

  • Fixed penalty notice (FPN) – issued by the police for minor driving or parking offences
  • Penalty charge notice (PCN) – issued by the local authority
  • Parking charge notice – invoices issued by private companies for parking on private land

A PCN issued by a private company is not backed by law but is used to acknowledge a breach of contract (misuse of private parking).

According to Money Supermarket: “If you overstay in a supermarket, hospital or other private car park, you could end up with a parking charge notice.

“If you don’t pay the amount owed, the parking company will write to you and may apply for a County Court judgment.”

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