According to the RAC, 93% of drivers are backing a new bill to regulate private parking. Private parking firms currently have a bad reputation from drivers, which is believed to be down to the fact that two thirds of drivers claim they are too aggressive when collecting fines, and 84% believe fines are disproportionate to the offence.
Furthermore, the Daily Mirror have also reported that millions of parking tickets are actually illegal, with many drivers having the right to fight for a refund, according to the RAC. Professor Stephen Glaister, RAC Foundation director, comments: “We estimate that in 2013 alone drivers might have been overcharged by some £100 million.”
In 2017, parking fines were said to be costing Brits a huge £94 million a year, with some cities issuing over half a million penalties in the past three years. According to UK Carline, Brent, Croydon and Bristol were the cities that drivers were most likely to be hit with a parking fine. All three cities had issues more than 250,000 fines in 2016. Brent in particular soared ahead of other cities across the UK, issuing 537,128 fines across the three-year period. The top ten councils with the highest number of issued parking fines is as follows:
|Rank||City||No. parking fines issued
(over three years)
In total, a worrying 2,752,900 penalty charge notices were issued across the three-year period, with 941,888 tickets issued in 2016 alone. If each penalty was charged at the maximum fine of £100 per offence, these penalty charges could be costing motorists an astonishing £275,290,000 per year! And further figures from the RAC suggest these figures continued to rise in the month running up to Christmas 2017 – with figures signifying there was a 10% increase in the number of tickets issued when compared to 2016’s figures, with around 17,137 tickets issued every day. Furthermore, ParkingEye Ltd was found to have requested the largest amount of data from the DVLA, with more than 533,000 records obtained in the most recent quarter, at a cost of £2.50 a record.
RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding says the data suggests private parking firms are “looking to maximise their profits from drivers out and about doing their festive shopping”. An opinion that seems fair to dish out, considering 72% of drivers say that parking terms and conditions notices are often hard to read or hidden in car parks – with a further 69% claiming parking charges were too high.
Figures from UK Carline also highlighted that there appears to be a pattern on the most likely days for parking fines to be issued. Their research revealed Saturday was the day most drivers were issued with a parking fine, whilst Sunday was the least likely. Figures show that just 235,584 tickets were issued on Sundays – a figure which still looks to be high but is significantly lower than the 430,035 tickets that were issued on Saturdays over the three-year period. Are drivers better behaved on Sundays? Or are parking firms more lenient?
Seeing that big yellow envelope stuck to your windscreen or receiving the dreaded letter through the post is a position no driver wants to be in – knowing it means they face an unexpected charge for parking. The RAC suggests that there are a number of areas which need to be addressed within the newly proposed bill in order for it to be a wide success, shifting driver attitudes towards a more positive consumer confidence in private parking firms.
Road policy spokesman for the RAC, Nicholas Lyes, comments: “Importantly, this bill will facilitate a set of national guidelines which we hope will make the appeals’ process simpler, tighten access to the DVLA database and bring higher standards to a sector which clearly has a poor reputation among motorists.”
This reputation clearly needs to be worked upon, considering 81% of drivers feel firms have a bad reputation.
The future of parking and a reduction in harsh parking fines looked positive back in January 2018, as the proposed Parking (Code of Practice) Bill from former Conservative minister, Sir Greg Knight, was expected to be heard by the House of Commons for a second time. The proposed new code of practice hoped to ensure fair treatment of motorists and parking firms alike – a practice that is clearly needed following data that shows ticketing has reached epidemic proportions. The RAC were pleased that the code of practice would mean that firms which did not comply with the new code would be blocked from accessing motorist’ information via the DVLA.
However, if the latest news from the RAC is anything to go by, local authorities and councils could become a part of the ‘war against motorists’, as a Conservative MP describes it – with permits and car parking expected to rocket by 45% in certain areas across the UK. This includes with the introduction of Sunday parking charges. With councils already racking up a huge £819 million in parking fines, fees and permits during 2016/17, how much could they be looking at making if charges increase by 45%? Motorists could be in for a shock – though also giving them more reason to fight back and support a bill to regulate private parking.
The cost of parking, and fines is clearly an issue that has been raised to the government. Could we see the right changes being made in the near future? For motorists’ sake, let’s hope so.
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