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Crackdown planned for private parking firms to stop unfair fines

The Government has proposed new rules for private parking firms to tackle unfair penalties, including grace periods and new maximum caps for parking fines.

Under the proposals, there will be a tiered approach to parking fines – with less serious offences attracting lower fines, but increased charges for those who park dangerously.

And motorists who make a genuine mistake or have mitigating circumstances will be able to appeal their fine and have it reduced or cancelled.

At the moment, there are two parking trade associations – the British Parking Association and the International Parking Community – which have their own codes of practice. But the Government wants its new code to be compulsory, and has provided a single set of rules for private parking firms across England, Scotland and Wales.

Those who break the Government's code could be barred from using DVLA data, making it harder for them to send charges to motorists by post.

Remember, 'fines' from private parking firms are actually just invoices for what they deem to be a breach of contract, and it's already possible to fight unfair private parking charges.

See Fight Unfair Private Parking Tickets for full info on appealing against tickets from private firms.

What are the new proposals?

The Government has proposed new tiered systems for parking charges.

There are different options for these systems, but generally a lower-level breach, for poor parking or issues which could inconvenience other car park users – such as returning to re-park within a prohibited timeframe or using an expired permit – would attract a fine of £40 or £80 (depending on the system).

But upper-level breaches, which put others in danger or are considered anti-social behaviour affecting vulnerable groups or businesses – such as parking in a blue badge or ambulance bay, or obstructing a fire escape or loading areas – could attract fines of £120 (an increase from the current maximum of £100).

It's also proposed a series of other measures, including:

  • Clearly displayed pricing and T&Cs, including contact details and information about how to appeal potential charges.

  • A "crackdown" on firms using aggressive or pseudo-legal language to intimidate motorists.

  • A five-minute cooling-off period where motorists can consider the T&Cs before deciding whether to park.

  • A 10-minute grace period before firms could charge a late penalty.

The Government will be consulting on the proposals until 12 October 2020.

How would motorists be able to appeal?

Under the proposals, there would be one compulsory appeals service for motorists to use if they think they've been fined unfairly.

As part of this appeals service, motorists would be able to reduce or cancel their fines under certain circumstances:

  • If you have mitigating circumstances, your fine could be cancelled if you have strong evidence or a genuine, legitimate reason, or reduced to up to £20.

  • If your vehicle broke down and you have evidence, the fine would be cancelled for both your vehicle and the recovery vehicle.
  • If you did have a pay and display ticket or a blue badge but didn't display it, the fine would be reduced to up to £20.

  • If you made a keying error at the pay and display machine, your fine would be cancelled if it was a minor mistake such as getting one letter wrong.

    If it was a major error, such as entering your partner's registration by accident or only partly entering the number plate, your fine would be reduced to up to £20. 

    The UK's largest parking trade body, the British Parking Association, already introduced this rule to its code of practice in January 2020.

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