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MP calls for regulation of private parking industry

MP calls for regulation of private parking industry

A Conservative MP has tabled a bill to crack down on the private parking industry as latest figures from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) show a 64% surge in the number of vehicle keeper records being shared with firms.   

Sir Greg Knight’s private members’ bill - Parking (Code of Practice) - aims to end industry self-regulation. It has had its first reading in the House of Commons.  

In recent years, ACFO has been calling on the government to take action to encourage radical modernisation of the inefficient and cumbersome process for administering parking fines on private land.  

According to data just published, the DVLA shared 1.74 million records with private parking companies in the first quarter of the 2017/18 financial year. That compares with the 1.06 million records released in quarter one 2016/17.  

If the release of data was replicated across the remaining three quarters then the annual total would be seven million, up from 4.7 million in 2016/17.  

The records are used by parking companies to chase vehicle owners for alleged infringements of rules in private car parks. The penalty tickets the companies issue are often up to £100 each.

ParkingEye Ltd obtained the largest amount of DVLA data in the first quarter - some 570,000 vehicle keeper records. Second was Smart Parking, 125,000; and third was Euro Car Parks, 118,000.  

The data suggests that a private parking ticket is now being issued every 4.5 seconds; the equivalent of 13 per minute, 799 per hour and 19,173 per day.  

The surge in ticketing comes after the ban on clamping on private land, which came into force in 2012, and two years after the coalition government consulted on possible changes to the private parking industry.  

To access DVLA data, parking firms must be members of an accredited trade association. There are currently two: the British Parking Association (BPA) and the International Parking Community (IPC). Both the BPA and the IPC have their own codes of practice and appeals services for drivers.

The RAC Foundation said it hoped that Sir Greg’s private members’ bill would include measures to:         
  • End the current self-regulation of the private parking industry           
  • Place more restrictions on the access private parking companies have to DVLA data        
  • Impose a single code of practice for all companies           
  • Outlaw business models that rely on issuing parking charge notices (penalty tickets).  

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “These figures are a stark illustration of why Sir Greg’s bill is so badly needed and if there is one piece of legislation which should command cross-party support it is this.  

“Self-regulation of the private parking sector has not worked - even many of the big companies acknowledge that - and we are delighted Sir Greg Knight is coming to the rescue with law that will create a single, binding code of conduct, something we have campaigned for over several years.

“Five years after the ban on clamping, private parking has turned into an industry worth hundreds of millions of pounds with many firms relying on enforcement as their only way of making money. No wonder the DVLA is now being inundated annually with many millions of requests for vehicle keeper data so drivers can be sent penalty tickets on often dubious grounds.”