Thursday 12 December 2019

Ministers back plans to clamp down on rogue parking firms

New legislation aimed at raising standards in the private parking sector is to be supported by MPs

By Will Rimell

Motorists are to receive new legal protection against private parking firms as the government backs a bill to raise standards in the industry.

The legislation, put forward by East Yorkshire MP Greg Knight, is set to tackle rogue parking operators with a stringent new code of practice. This code is to be developed by communities secretary Sajid Javid with the help of motoring groups and industry experts.

Firms falling foul of the rules would then be blocked from accessing driver data and issuing fines, effectively forcing them out of the industry.

The Department for Transport says nearly 10,000 people approached the Citizen’s Advice Bureau for guidance on private parking tickets last year.

This comes as data released by the RAC Foundation has revealed that parking firms are issuing almost 13 times (1,177 per cent) more tickets than a decade ago, up from 111,944 in Q2 of 2007/08 to 1,429,703 in 2017/18.

Javid said: “For too long drivers have suffered from unjust fines at the hands of dodgy parking firms.

“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.

“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.”

In 2010, the government banned the clamping and towing of vehicles on private land in a bid to curb rouge parking operators. Tough penalties are issued to anyone caught.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “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.”

The bill has also received the backing of parking trade body, the British Parking Association.

Chief executive Andrew Pester said: “We welcome Sir Greg’s Bill that aims to drive consistency and fairness in the private parking sector.

“With two Codes of Practice in the sector and the potential for more, it’s essential that we avoid a race to the bottom when it comes to standards.”

The bill is expected to have its second reading debate on February 2, having been presented to parliament on July 19 last year.

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