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
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
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
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.