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Don't pay cash to anyone issuing a parking charge notice
After a long running AA campaign, wheel clamping on private land will be a criminal offence from 1 October 2012, as set out in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.
The only exceptions will be where wheel clamping is carried out lawfully, for example at some railway stations, airports, or local authority housing under local by-laws. The DVLA, Police and some other government agencies will continue to clamp in some circumstances too.
Clampers always aimed to maximise profits from each individual clamping because of manpower, time and hardware costs. In contrast, tickets can often be issued remotely using CCTV cameras, or by parking attendants on foot who can issue tickets to a large number of vehicles in a relatively short time.
There has been a surge in the number of parking charge notices (tickets) issued by private parking enforcers and the AA has campaigned for the creation of an independent parking appeal service since AA members began falling victim to poor practices by these companies. This problem is likely to increase with the ban on wheel clamping.
There is clearly a need for landowners and private car park operators to have some control over those who park but enforcement must be fair and reasonable.
Parking enforcement on private land is unregulated and relies on the laws of contract and trespass. Put simply, you are deemed to have accepted the parking terms and sanctions if there is adequate signage.
The AA, British Parking Association, private parking enforcement companies and other groups all wanted private parking enforcement to be fully regulated by government but this has not happened.
Check signs carefully
Most private parking spaces are made available for use with conditions attached; parking can be time limited or charges can apply through use of pay and display systems for example.
There may also be permit-only parking for residents, employees or visitors who must display a current permit in their vehicles.
Providing the conditions are reasonable and clearly indicated on signage, any breach can be dealt with.
From 1 October enforcement action cannot involve use of a wheel clamp or vehicle removal, and most infringements will be dealt with by issuing parking charge notices.
The parking charge notice will either be put on the offending vehicle or, as happens frequently now, the non-compliance will be detected by camera and a parking charge notice will be sent by post to the vehicle keeper registered with DVLA.
Only parking enforcement companies who are members of the British Parking Association’s (BPA) approved operator scheme (AOS) are allowed to obtain vehicle keepers’ details from the DVLA.
It must be noted that there will be two very different parking ticket regimes operating on private land after 1 October 2012.
Non-BPA private enforcers may continue to issue tickets under contract/trespass law.
Parking conditions must be clearly signed and any disputes resolved through the civil court. The appeal service is not available for tickets issued by non BPA members.
Even though BPA member companies have established a right of independent appeal, a disputed case can still be taken to civil court if the independent appeal decision is disputed by either party.
From 1 October the normal maximum sum a BPA (AOS) member will demand for a breach of parking conditions is £100 which must be discounted by up to 40% for prompt payment.
In the unlikely event a BPA member demands more it must be fully justified for example, by setting out the consequential losses caused by the breach of terms and conditions.
Non-BPA members will set their own level of sanction but this must still be set at a fair value representing consequential loss.
Parking charge notice
From 1 October 2012 there is nothing to stop cowboy clampers turning into unscrupulous and heavy handed issuers of parking 'tickets'.
They may well issue these tickets personally with the same threats and intimidating manner they used when they were wheel clampers.
We strongly advise drivers not to pay cash to anyone issuing a parking charge notice (ticket); any bona fide parking control company will allow payment by post/credit card after the event.
Rogue ticketers will not be able to obtain the ‘vehicle keepers’ address from DVLA in order to pursue the debt, and may therefore resort to threatening behaviour to scare drivers into paying up there and then, possibly demanding extortionate sums.
In extreme cases unscrupulous tickers may be guilty of criminal offences like ‘demanding money’ and the police should be called.
26 September 2012
Read AA head of public affairs Paul Watters' article, "parking - a nice little earner?" in the October 2013 issue of Parking News.