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Figures released earlier in 2018 indicate that car park penalty tickets issued in the UK have reached a record high. Analysis of government driver data found that the number of tickets issued by car park management firms reached 5.56 million. Controversy has arisen over the way that parking tickets are issued and, in particular, how the private parking industry handles – and profits from – consumers. If you find yourself with a parking fine then you don’t have to simply accept it and pay up.
According to the RAC Foundation the number of car park penalty tickets has risen by a fifth in almost 12 months. Such a significant increase indicates that either we are becoming a lot more careless when it comes to how and where we park – or the industry is finding more ways to make money from us. Parking fines can be a profitable business, both for private companies and councils. In 2016/17 around £819 million was generated from the on and off street activities of the UK’s local authorities. Most of the councils making large surpluses from their parking activities were located in London. However, local authorities in Brighton & Hove and Milton Keynes also had surpluses that topped more than a million.
There are three main types of parking tickets: Penalty Charge Notices and Fixed Penalty Notices issued by a local authority and Parking Charge Notices issued by private parking firm. All tend to be yellow and look very similar but private parking tickets are far less enforceable – and all can be challenged.
• Issued by the local authority for parking where you shouldn’t, as well as other issues such as traffic infringements.
• Payment is required within 28 days. After that a ‘charge certificate’ is issued with payment terms of 14 days for the original fine plus 50%. If the amount is still not paid within 14 days then a court order will be generated demanding payment.
• Issued by the local authority, police or Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)
• Payment is also required within 28 days or the amount owed is increased by 50%
• Where a Fixed Penalty Notice is not paid prosecution is usually the next step – this may mean a bigger fine in the long run, as well as having to cover court costs.
• Issued by private parking companies who manage car parks for supermarkets, railway stations etc e.g. Britannia Parking Group, Euro Car Parks, NCP and ParkingEye.
• As the issuing firm is private, they set their own requirements and conditions with respect to payment dates and fine amounts.
• Typical actions that will attract this type of parking charge notice include not paying for a parking ticket or parking in the wrong place.
You can challenge a parking ticket, no matter what type it is. This year saw an 8% drop in challenges taken all the way to an independent adjudicator. However, for those who do make this effort, 56% win.
Challenging a Fixed Penalty Notice is usually done via a magistrate’s court.
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read about Alex Hartley