Private car parking fines to be capped in crackdown on ‘cowboy’ firms

A new code of practice will be introduced to set a maximum cap on fines.

Private car parking fines to be capped in crackdown on ‘cowboy’ firms iStock

Private car parking fines are to be cut by up to 50% in most areas across Scotland, England and Wales.

The move is part of a UK Government crackdown on “cowboy” private car parking firms.

A new code of practice will be introduced to set a maximum cap on fines, as well as a ten-minute grace period before a late fine can be issued.

It will also set a requirement for parking firms to clearly display pricing and terms and conditions.

Private firms that breach the new code could be barred from collecting fines from motorists.

Currently, private parking firms are able to hide behind non-specific, pseudo-legal and aggressive language when pursuing motorists.

Rogue firms which break the rules could also be barred from requesting Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data, making them unable to pursue motorists for their charges through the post.

A new, simpler appeals process is also being created, to make it easier for disputed fines to be cancelled.

The UK Government’s levelling up minister Neil O‘Brien pledged that the new code will set out a “clear vision” which will have “motorists at its heart”.

“Private firms issue roughly 22,000 parking tickets every day, often adopting a system of misleading and confusing signage, aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees designed to extort money from motorists,” he said.

“The new code of practice will set out a clear vision with the interests of safe motorists at its heart, while cracking down on the worst offenders who put other people in danger and hinder our emergency services from carrying out their duties.”

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes welcomed the introduction of the new code of practice.

“The RAC has campaigned for years to end the sharp practices in the private parking sector,” he said.

“So we welcome the new national code that will usher in higher standards and will introduce a lower cap on penalty charge notices, an independent appeals system and an end to rip-off debt collection fees.

“This will undoubtedly make drivers’ experience of using private car parks fairer while at the same time force rogue operators to clean up their acts once and for all.”

Edmund King, AA president, indicated that the code should give drivers confidence to appeal and be “properly heard”.

He said: “These much needed upgrades to private parking rules will give better protection to drivers.

“For too long, those caught by private parking firms simply pay the charge to get rid of it. Thankfully these days are numbered.

“Drivers should feel confident that having a single code of practice and a new appeals charter will give them confidence to appeal and be properly heard.

“We are also pleased that honest mistakes, like mistyping the car registration into the machine, will now be automatically cancelled.”

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