- Private companies issued 27 lakh parking tickets between April and June
- Parking fines despite minister’s promise to crack down on ‘cowboy’ operators
- Firms on track to issue demands for up to £1bn in parking fines this year
- ‘Private parking companies are acting like pirates’, says the AA’s Jack Cousons
Motorists are being hit with a record 30,000 parking tickets a day – despite ministers promising to crack down on ‘cowboy’ operators.
Shocking figures show ruthless private companies issued 2.7 million tickets to drivers between April and June – or one every three seconds.
This means parking companies are on track to issue fines of up to £1 billion this year. And the figures only apply to car parks run by private firms, not councils.
Last night ministers faced renewed calls to get tough on ‘pirate’ firms causing misery for millions of motorists amid a cost of life crisis and sky-high fuel prices.
It comes after the government withdrew key parts of a long-awaited code of conduct aimed at protecting drivers from ‘cowboy’ operators. Ministers bowed out after parking firms launched a judicial review of the proposals, which included reducing the maximum fine from £100 to £50.
With plans to ban debt collectors from hounding motorists who don’t pay within a deadline, this looks unlikely to go ahead. The number of tickets issued is up 50 percent in a year, rising from 1.8 million in the same three-month period in 2021.
Shocking figures show private companies issued 2.7 million tickets to drivers between April and June – or one every three seconds (file photo)
Alan Dyer (pictured), 71, from Dunstable, Bedfordshire, was issued a ticket by APCOA Parking after parking at Legrave station while driving his granddaughter to hospital in London.
How private parking firms are issuing more fines from 2017 to 2022
If this year’s growth continues at the same rate, it will reach a record high of almost 11 million tickets issued in 2022-23 – 2.5 million more than the current high of 8.4 million in 2019/20.
With fines of up to £100, private companies are set to issue fines of up to £1.1 billion.
The analysis by RAC Foundation also found that the number of parking firms has increased from 151 to 176 in the last one year.
Motorists have been waiting years for the code of practice, the details of which were announced in February, amid complaints about poor practices such as deliberately defaced signage.
A mandatory ten-minute grace period before issuing fines to drivers who have expired tickets will be implemented by the end of next year. There would be a simple and fair independent appeals process to give more drivers the benefit of the doubt in cases involving honest mistakes, such as keying in the wrong number plate at a ticket machine. An ‘Appeals Charter’ will be set up to more clearly state the rights of motorists.
Whitehall sources confirmed authorities have ‘accepted’ the parking firms’ arguments on capping fines and banning debt collectors. The firms said the legal case for the measures was not strong enough.
The government is now consulting more widely on the measures in the hope that the legal case can be strengthened and they can proceed.
But it means parking firms are set to make handsome profits from fines on motorists for some time yet.
Whitehall sources have confirmed officers have ‘accepted’ arguments from parking firms to cap fines and ban debt collectors (File photo of Denise Petter, 74, who despite paying and displaying Refused to pay fine after being issued parking ticket – but accidentally put in wrong license plate number last year)
Jack Cousons, head of roads policy for the AA, said: ‘Private parking companies are acting like pirates, robbing innocent drivers of their well-earned cash as they go as far as possible before the full code of practice comes into force. You want to collect as much treasure as you can. However, the delay in adopting the code has reached a point where it is hurting motorists at a time when they really need support.’
Steve Gooding, head of the RAC Foundation, said the figures highlighted how the ‘Wild West’ private parking industry is ‘flourishing’. He said: ‘Three and a half years after they became law, the government is still not using the powers permitted under the Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019 to change the world of private parking and make it a better place.
‘This latest data is indicative of a system that is broken. We hope that the new ministerial team in charge of this part of public policy will tackle it with renewed vigour.
Jack Cousons, head of road policy for the AA, said: ‘Private parking companies are acting like pirates, robbing innocent drivers of their hard-earned money.
The country’s biggest parking firm, Parkingi, was the most active, purchasing 521,000 records between April and June from the DVLA to issue fines.
The RAC’s head of road policy, Nicholas Leas, said: ‘These figures clearly demonstrate why there is such a dire need for an independent appeals system as well as a new code of practice.’
Alan Dyer, 71, from Dunstable, Bedfordshire, was issued a ticket by APCOA Parking after parking at Legrave station while driving his granddaughter to hospital in London.
He was fined despite displaying a blue badge and being allowed to park there. APCOA Parking claimed that its records showed that its parking permit was not active at the time the fine was issued. But Mr. Dyer succeeded in proving this wrong and the ticket was forgiven. He said: ‘We threatened legal action and they eventually let it go. He did not give any apology, nothing.
A government spokesman said: ‘We recognize that there has been unacceptable behavior by a small number of Cowboys companies. We will be introducing our Private Parking Code of Conduct as soon as possible to help tackle this problem.
Credit: www.dailymail.co.uk /