Motorists to be given protection against the parking cowboys

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Andrew Pester, Chief Executive of the British Parking Association has also welcomed the bill. “A single, mandatory code of practice across the whole sector is important to ensure that unscrupulous providers don’t undermine the parking sector with bad practice,” he said.“As the leading authority in the sector we shall continue to work closely with Government and key stakeholders to press for progress towards a positive outcome for all.”Unlike parking tickets issued by the council or a fixed penalty notice from the police, private car parking notices are charges for breaking a contract rather than breaking the law. In England and Wales wheel clamping by private landowners, or companies that work for them, was banned in 2012 under the Protection of Freedom Act. In Scotland it was banned in 1992. In March 2015 councils were told to give drivers a 10-minute grace period before issuing a parking fine in an effort to reduce the number of disputed tickets. Drivers are set to receive new legal protections from private parking operators as the Government backs plans to ban cowboy firms from accessing motorists’ details and issuing fines.Independent parking companies are issuing almost 13 times more illegitimate tickets than a decade ago, making as much as £100million a year. The government has confirmed that it will support new legislation aimed at raising standards among parking companies to stop drivers being subject to unreasonably large charges and threats.The RAC estimates that the total value of illegitimate parking tickets issued by private companies in a single year could be as much as £100million. Nearly 10,000 people approached the Citizen’s Advice Bureau for advice on private parking tickets last year.The Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government says drivers are increasingly complaining of inconsistent practices, substandard signage, confusing appeals processes and intimidating payment letters.“For too long drivers have suffered from unjust fines at the hands of dodgy parking firms,” said Secretary of State for Communities Sajid Javid.Under the proposed plans a new code of practice will be developed in conjunction with motorists groups. Those falling foul of the rules will then be blocked from accessing DVLA data, with the aim of forcing them out of the industry. The DVLA makes more than £1.4million a month from selling motorists’ information to companies for £2.50 a vehicle.“We need a fairer, clearer and more consistent system that brings the small minority of unscrupulous operators in line with those who are behaving appropriately,” said Javid.center_img “That is why Government is putting the brakes on these rogue operators and backing new laws that will put a stop to aggressive behaviour and provide a simpler way for drivers to appeal fines.”The latest crackdown comes after dozens of doctors, nurses and support workers were left suffering high levels of stress and sickness after a NHS trust authorised a private car park operator to pursue them through the courts over unpaid fines. In July last year medical and admin staff at University Hospital of Wales (UHW) face an estimated total bill of £12.8 million after a court ruled they were liable to pay £128 for each ticket they received, plus tens of thousands in court fees.Industry bodies have voiced their support for the bill, which was introduced by Sir Greg Knight MP, and it will receive its Second Reading in the House of Commons on Friday.“Motorists will be delighted that the Government is throwing its weight behind Sir Greg Knight’s move to bring some much needed regulatory rigour to the world of private parking,” said Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation.”We all hoped the ban on clamping would end the sharp practices that had come to plague private parking, but the fact that companies are issuing millions of penalty tickets annually is clear evidence that something is still going badly awry.“Drivers don’t want a parking free-for-all, but they do want a system that is fair to all parties and that’s what a code of practice set by Government – rather than the industry itself – should bring about.”last_img

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