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New private parking law to target rogue firms and make fine appeals easier

New private parking law to target rogue firms and make fine appeals easier

New legislation is making its way through Parliament to help drivers challenge unfair charges issued by unscrupulous private parking firms.

The Parking (Code of Practice) Bill, which will deliver on a Conservative Party manifesto commitment to tackle rogue parking operators, received government backing after MPs recognised that drivers needed an easier process to appeal tickets being dished out in supermarkets, train stations and pubs and other locations.

The Parking (Code of Practice) Bill 2017-19 was passed by MPs at its Third Reading in the House of Commons and will now enter the House of Lords. It will cover England, Wales, and Scotland - creating consistency for motorists anywhere in Britain. The Bill is a Private Members Bill introduced by Sir Greg Knight MP.

The code of practice written into the Bill to tackle rogue private parking firms is also expected to include a raft of new rules, including a 10 minute grace period for drivers who overstay the parking restrictions and a £100 fine limit and a ‘one-stop shop’ for appeals for private parking fines.

Drivers were increasingly complaining of inconsistent practices, substandard signage, confusing appeal processes and intimidating payment letters, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The changes will tackle bad practice, bringing consistency and fairness for drivers and the industry, said the Ministry, which added that a new single, independent appeals service would mean drivers handed unfair tickets from private parking operators would have the clarity and confidence in knowing where to turn to appeal.

Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Millions of drivers use private car parks every day, and far too many of them are receiving unjust fines at the hands of rogue firms.

“We need a fairer, clearer and more consistent system that puts the brake on the unfair practices being experienced by too many drivers.

“I am delighted that MPs have unanimously backed these changes and that the government is on track to create a better system for our nation’s motorists.”

Industry bodies also gave support for the amendment to create a single appeals service. Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “We particularly welcome the proposal for a single, independent appeals service, which, together with a single, clear code of practice should establish a better, clearer framework and a level playing field that is fairer for all.”

Andrew Pester, the British Parking Association’s chief executive, said: “We welcome Sir Greg Knight’s amendments which chime with our call for a single standard body, single code of practice and a single independent appeals service.

“This framework provides a unique opportunity to deliver greater consistency and consumer confidence - and as a not-for-profit association we are focused on working closely with government and others, including consumer groups, to push for a positive outcome for all.”

The new code of practice will be drafted up with stakeholders, and is aimed at providing the clarity of a single set of rules for private parking, with clearer processes for appeals. At present, there are two parking trade associations, the British Parking Association (BPA) and the International Parking Community (IPC). Each has a code of practice that their members are required to abide by. A single code is intended to set a higher standard for practices across the sector, especially in the area of appeals against parking tickets.