Private firms hit motorists with 35,000 parking tickets every day | UK | News

Motorists are being handed more than 35,000 parking tickets every day by private contractors, an analysis of official figures has revealed. The astonishing raid on drivers, worth up to £3.5million a day, comes five years after the Government agreed to impose new rules on the sector.

Ministers have so far failed to introduce a code of conduct aimed at eradicating some of the sector’s worst practices, despite legislation already being passed. Tory MP Sir Greg Knight won cross-party support for his Parking (Code of Practice) Bill, which received Royal Assent five years ago.

Sir Greg told the “The delay is inexcusable in my view.

“A draft code was issued, which if properly adhered to would deny the companies access to the DVLA [Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency] records, so they would not be able to issue fine notices.

“The Government was threatened with court action so they withdrew the draft code to reassess it, and that’s where it now lays.

“I’ve raised the issue with the Prime Minister and he is looking into it, so I don’t quite know why we are having to wait so long. The new law is needed badly in my view and that is the view of MPs from all parties.

“Because although some companies behave perfectly professionally, there are rogues in the industry which are ripping motorists off.

“Poor signage or signage that can’t be read, machines that don’t work properly, unfair use of CCTV, we’ve had cases of people getting a ticket when they did not actually stay.

“Most MPs have a tale of woe to tell with parking incidents in their own constituencies. It is clear that action is needed and sooner rather than much later.”

Road transport research charity the RAC Foundation, which analysed DVLA statistics to uncover the number of tickets being issued by private firms, said many drivers could feel “badly let down” by the delay.

The RAC Foundation analysis of government data found 9.7million tickets were issued to drivers by private parking companies in Britain between April and December last year, which is equivalent to almost 35,300 every day. Each ticket can cost drivers up to £100.

Private parking businesses have been accused of using misleading and confusing signs, aggressive debt collection techniques and unreasonable fees.

The Parking (Code of Practice) Bill received Royal Assent on March 15, 2019, but the code has not be implemented. At least 32.2million tickets have been issued by private companies in Britain since the legislation was passed.

The code was originally laid before Parliament in February 2022 and due to come into force across Britain by the end of 2023. It included halving the cap on tickets for most parking offences to £50, creating a fairer appeals system, higher standards for signage and banning the use of aggressive language on tickets.

But the code was withdrawn by the Government in June 2022 following a legal challenge by parking companies, and has not been reintroduced.

A new call for evidence run by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) closed on October 8 last year.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Since March 2019, many things have happened. The five years have seen us through four prime ministers, a pandemic and a cost-of-living crisis.

“But what we’ve not seen is the implementation of the protections MPs were queuing up to support when the Parking (Code of Practice) Act made its way onto the statute book all those years ago.

“Ministers would do well to consider how their performance looks to the many millions of drivers who’ve been issued with a ticket since the law was enacted.

“What’s needed is a swift dose of hurry-up treatment in this election year if those voters are not to be left feeling badly let down.”

The analysis of parking tickets is based on the number of records obtained from the DLVA by companies chasing vehicle owners for alleged infringements in private car parks, such as at shopping centres, leisure facilities and motorway service areas. They do not include council-run car parks.

Some 185 parking management businesses requested vehicle owner records between April and December last year. ParkingEye, which boasts of being able to “dramatically increase parking compliance” and manages 3,500 sites, was the most active buying nearly 569,000 records.

The DVLA charges private companies £2.50 per record. The agency says its fees are set to recover the cost of providing the information and it does not make any money from the process.

A DLUHC spokesman said: “We remain committed to introducing the private parking code of practice to help improve the regulation of the private parking system.

“We have recently concluded a call for evidence and will consult on elements of the code in due course.

“The Government continues to work with the industry and consumer groups to reissue the code as quickly as possible.”

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