Some private parking firms will have to abide by a new code of practice to be able to access owners' details from the DVLA – but the new Government-backed legislation is unlikely to stop rogue firms that don't sign up to the new rules from issuing tickets.
The Government has committed to supporting the Parking (Code of Practice) Bill which will establish a single set of rules for private parking firms that are signed up to trade associations, and ban these companies from accessing a vehicle owner's data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if they don't follow the code of practice.
But despite Government claims that it's "putting the brakes on rogue operators", it admitted to MoneySavingExpert.com that companies which don't sign up to the code of practice WILL still be able to issue tickets. These companies will not be able to access DVLA data to chase non-payers, but if firms are not currently a member of a trade association they are unable to access DVLA data anyway, so the deterrent does not affect them.
How does the system currently work?
At present, there are two parking trade associations, the British Parking Association (BPA) and the International Parking Community, which each has a separate code of conduct that members are required to abide by.
Only companies which are members of one of these associations are able to access the DVLA register, and therefore identify owners of vehicles to chase them for payment of tickets.
Under the proposed legislation, which will go before MPs when it faces its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday, a single code of practice which applies across both associations will be established. The Government has said it will support it, meaning it is extremely likely to pass into law.
However, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government told MoneySavingExpert that firms which don't sign up to the code of practice will still be able to issue tickets – meaning the impact on less reputable firms may be limited.
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'Drivers suffer unjust fines at the hands of dodgy parking firms'
Evidence shows that nearly 10,000 people approached Citizens Advice for advice on private parking tickets last year, and that parking firms are issuing almost 13 times more tickets than a decade ago.
It is unclear exactly what will be included in the new code, but the Government hopes that the introduction of a single set of rules will set a higher standard of practice for the parking industry, making it harder for rogue firms to operate.
Under the legislation, the Government would also have the power to issue a bill to the parking sector to fund the production, publishing and enforcement of the code.
Secretary of State for Communities Sajid Javid said: "For too long, drivers have suffered from unjust fines at the hands of dodgy parking firms.
"We need a fairer, clearer and more consistent system that brings the small minority of unscrupulous operators in line with those who are behaving appropriately.
"That is why Government is putting the brakes on these rogue operators and backing new laws that will put a stop to aggressive behaviour and provide a simpler way for drivers to appeal fines."
Andrew Pester, chief executive of the BPA, said: "A single, mandatory code of practice across the whole sector is important to ensure that unscrupulous providers don't undermine the parking sector with bad practice.
"As the leading authority in the sector we shall continue to work closely with Government and key stakeholders to press for progress towards a positive outcome for all."