New rules for private car parks
Late last year, the government published updated rules and legislation for the private car park sector.
The government has 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. This proposed framework follows the enactment of The Parking (Code of Practice) Act which 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. The government are hoping 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. 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
The government is proposing that the New Appeals Charter will reduce parking charges to between £0 and £20 for the issues below:
- Significant Evidence of mitigation or genuine, legitimate reason – fine cancelled
- Non-evidenced mitigation – if accepted, fine reduced to between £0 and £20 dependent upon the circumstances
- Evidenced vehicle breakdown – fine cancelled for motorist and recovery vehicle
- Failure to display permit/Blue Badge/pay and display ticket (copy then supplied) – fine reduced to between £0 and £20.
- Keying error at pay and display machine – Minor (one letter wrong, removed or swapped or numbers and letters in the wrong order but still recognisable) – fine cancelled
- Keying error at pay and display machine – Major (motorist enters their partner’s registration, multiple keying errors or only partial number plate entered) – fine reduced to between £0 and £20
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.
Park Consult managing director, Richard Ofield, commented,
“Currently there are two parking trade associations, the British Parking Association and the International Parking Community. Each has a Code of Practice that their members are required to abide by, which 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.
Time will tell as to whether the motorist’s parking experience will improve significantly under the final approved government framework, but regardless of who is administering the industry guidelines, the fact remains that there has been a fundamental breakdown in the parking event at the point where a parking charge notice has been issued, be it in driver error, ignorance or with a blatant disregard to the parking terms and conditions. The motorist is your customer, guest, visitor and therefore all reasonable measures should be taken to ensure they are treated accordingly, surely this is just good business sense.
When the final framework emerges I hope it provides a footing for the industry to move away from parking management services funded by the issuing of parking charge notices, as this is often the result of what can be generalised as overzealous parking management and to do this, will require the combined re-thinking from landowners, management organisations and car parking operators”.
At Park Consult we work with clients to put in place parking management regimes that seek to manage out the need to issue parking charge notices. Should you wish to review and discuss how your parking operations could be improved to the benefit of your customers, visitors, residents and employees please get in touch to discuss your particular requirements.
People, Places & Parking Process
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Covid-19 Risk Assessment Toolkit
Taking guidance from the British Parking Association and the H&S Executive, we have prepared this toolkit to help you address the risks that may be involved in managing social distancing and reducing the risk of virus transmission within your car park(s).
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