A new bill to regulate private parking is being backed by 93% of drivers, according to the RAC. Private parking firms hold a bad reputation with drivers and it’s thought to be because two-thirds of drivers think they are too aggressive when they try to collect fines. On top of this, 84% believe that the fines don’t reflect the offence.
The Daily Mirror has reported that millions of parking tickets aren’t in fact legal, meaning many drivers are able to fight for a refund. RAC Foundation Director, professor Stephen Glaister, said: “We estimate that in 2013 alone drivers might have been overcharged by some £100 million.”
Parking fines in 2017, are thought to have cost the British public a staggering £94 million, with certain cities having issued over half a million penalties in the past three years. According to UK Carline, Brent, Bristol and Croydon were the cities that drivers were most likely to be hit with a parking fine. All three cities had issues more than 250,000 fines in 2016. Brent soared ahead of other cities across the UK, issuing 537,128 fines across the three-year period. The top 10 councils with the highest number of issued parking fines is as follows:
|City||No. parking fines issued
(over three years)
It’s worrying that there was a total of 2,752,900 penalty charge notices issued across the three-year period, with 2016 alone seeing 941,888 tickets issued. If each penalty was charged at the maximum fine of £100 per offence, these penalty charges could be costing motorists an astonishing £275,290,000 per year! And further figures from the RAC suggest these figures continued to rise in the month running up to Christmas 2017 – with figures signifying there was a 10% increase in the number of tickets issued when compared to 2016’s figures, with around 17,137 tickets issued every day. Furthermore, ParkingEye Ltd was found to have requested the largest amount of data from the DVLA, with more than 533,000 records obtained in the most recent quarter, at a cost of £2.50 a record.
Steve Gooding, director of RAC Foundation, states that the data shows that private parking firms are “looking to maximise their profits from drivers out and about doing their festive shopping”. An opinion that seems fair to dish out, considering 72% of drivers say that parking terms and conditions notices are often hard to read or hidden in car parks – with a further 69% claiming parking charges were too high.
Further figures provided by UK Carline also highlighted that there seems to be a pattern on which days are most likely to see you issued with a fine. Their research shows that drivers were most likely to receive a fine on a Saturday, while Sunday was the least likely. Figures show that just 235,584 tickets were issued on Sundays – a figure which still looks to be high but is significantly lower than the 430,035 tickets that were issued on Saturdays over the three-year period. Are drivers better behaved on Sundays? Or are parking firms more lenient?
No driver wants to see that big yellow envelope placed on their windscreen, or receive the dreaded letter through the post, knowing it means they are facing an unexpected charge for parking. The RAC suggests that there are areas which need to be addressed within the newly proposed bill in order for it to be a wide success, shifting driver attitudes towards a more positive consumer confidence in private parking firms.
Road policy spokesman for the RAC, Nicholas Lyes, said: “Importantly, this bill will facilitate a set of national guidelines which we hope will make the appeals’ process simpler, tighten access to the DVLA database and bring higher standards to a sector which clearly has a poor reputation among motorists.”
It’s a reputation that clearly needs to be worked upon, especially as over four in five drivers feel firms have a bad reputation.
In January 2018, it looked as though the future of parking and a reduction in harsh parking fines was positive, as the proposed Parking (Code of Practice) Bill from former Conservative minister, Sir Greg Knight, was expected to be heard by the House of Commons for a second time. The proposed new code of practice hoped to ensure fair treatment of motorists and parking firms alike – a practice that is clearly needed following data that shows ticketing has reached epidemic proportions. The RAC were pleased that the code of practice would mean that firms which did not comply with the new code would be blocked from accessing motorist’ information via the DVLA.
However, local authorities and councils could soon be part of the ‘war against motorists’, as a Conservative MP describes it, if the latest news from the RAC is anything to go by, with permits and car parking anticipated to rise by 45% in certain areas of the UK. This includes with the introduction of Sunday parking charges. With councils already racking up a huge £819 million in parking fines, fees and permits during 2016/17, how much could they be looking at making if charges increase by 45%? Motorists could be in for a shock – though also giving them more reason to fight back and support a bill to regulate private parking.
It’s clear that the cost of parking and fines is an issue that has been raised to the government, but could we see positive changes being made in the future? For motorists’ sake, let’s hope so.
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