President's Log

AA President Edmund King tackles rogue parking tickets

Edmund King The days of cowboy clampers who target drivers on private land are numbered. The Protection of Freedoms Bill which is making its way through Parliament should outlaw clamping on private land by the end of the year.

The outlawing of cowboy clampers is an issue that I have personally campaigned on for more than 10 years. Despite several attempts to regulate the 'industry' the outrageous antics of many rogue companies have continued. One of the worst cases was that of an AA patrol who pulled up on a private road to attend a breakdown on a busy road where he couldn't park and ended up with an outrageous bill for over £1,000.

Other cases have included:

  • A three-year-old girl being taken hostage by clampers in Doncaster until her mother paid up
  • A good samaritan stopping to help a hit and run victim and being clamped
  • A marked police car on duty being clamped
  • A hearse carrying a coffin being clamped outside a church

However, the anticipated ban on clampers is already leading to another rogue practice – private parking ticketing. Let's be clear, drivers should always be careful about where and when they can park. Drivers should check signs and not block entrances or cause an obstruction.

What we have noticed though is that more of the clampers, knowing that they are drinking in the last chance saloon, have begun issuing bogus tickets on private land. These people are now operating anywhere from scrap pieces of land to fast-food or supermarket car parks. If you park in one of these areas and perhaps stray over the white lines by a few inches or stay for more than two hours, you may receive what looks like an official fixed penalty notice on your windscreen or through the post.

The problem with this system is that there is no independent right of appeal, no set fines and no enforceable code of conduct. The tickets look official and often intimidate drivers with threats of court action and bailiffs.

Should you pay these tickets? It is always worth disputing tickets if you don't think they are fair but often you have to write to a PO Box number and simply receive a reply insisting you pay up. If you believe that you may have contravened parking restrictions but believe they are charging an extortionate amount you can always try sending them, say, £10 in full and final settlement of their alleged infringement and suggest that they take you to court if they want to claim more. You can ignore the fine as some companies just count on about 60% paying up so don't bother to chase up the rest. If the company does take you to court, however, and finds against you, then you must pay up as this is when they often call in the bailiffs.

The AA is campaigning for the Protection of Freedoms Bill to be amended to include consumer protection from these rogue parking ticket companies. In the meantime, just watch where you park.

Follow the AA President on Twitter »

Site tools

AA Route PlannerRoutes for Britain, Ireland and EuropeAA RoadwatchCheck the traffic before you goEvents and attractionsWhat else is happening in your area?Walks & bike ridesSearch our database of UK walks and bike rides