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Comment: Achieving Fairer Private Parking Ticket Outcomes in the UK

26.11.2021, 12:48

Comment: Achieving Fairer Private Parking Ticket Outcomes in the UK

Dyl Kurpil, managing director of parking management services provider District Enforcement comments on recent research by the RAC Foundation into the state of UK parking and a sitting of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee on 17 November that discussed the government’s proposed Parking Code Enforcement Framework to regulate levels of private parking charges.

According to recent government statistics, in the current fiscal year, private parking firms in the United Kingdom have already issued 1.95 million tickets to drivers on sites including shopping centres, leisure facilities and motorway service areas. Additionally, research by the RAC Foundation has determined that 159 companies obtained records from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to allow them to chase vehicle owners for alleged infringements of private car park contracts between April and June. The RAC Foundation also found the number of parking firms has grown by two-thirds in the past five years.

Unsurprisingly, national newspapers including the Daily Mail are labelling these companies ‘cowboy parking firms’ – and, very probably, with good reason as the figure of 1.95 million tickets is a 64 per cent rise on 2016 figures and, if left unchecked for the remainder of the financial year, will result in an annual total approaching (or even exceeding) a record high of 8.4 million which was set in 2019/2020.

What’s more, prior to the publication of the RAC Foundation’s research, a sitting of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee held to discuss the Parking Code Enforcement Framework on November, concluded: “The implementation of a government-sanctioned code of practice, a single appeals service, and a system of charges and penalties that would be more in line with those levied by councils is awaiting ministerial sign-off.”

Sensationalising and categorising all operators as ‘Cowboys’ is untrue. There is a strong contingent of ethical actors supporting the market. Admittedly, there is no denying that the numbers of Parking Charge Notices (PCN) have gone up. But, that could be down to any number of factors. One major factor is the increased use of technology; which removes the necessity to ‘affix’ a charge notice to the vehicle  and, instead, requires access to the DVLA data in order to serve notice through the post. This process utilises the statutory framework enabling liability to be passed to the keeper rather than waiting for the driver to challenge or pay the PCN.

Equally, many in the parking industry agree there needs to be a change, and transparent and clear language usage around parking – more education is required with motorists and landowners to assist with changing perception across the sector, especially around how parking infringements are enforced. Ultimately, if anyone is found breaching conditions of parking, they need to be made aware. This is where Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) come into effect, they educate people about – and deter – irresponsible behaviour. Importantly, they need to be fairly aligned with the degree of offence. The level of the parking charge must be high enough  to deter negative behaviour and not encourage individuals to run the risk for their convenience.

Another consideration is levels of competition within the private parking industry as the involvement of multiple service providers can reduce the cost of parking. There is no monopoly or state price fixing either, largely due to the number of parking operators out there. The industry and government haven’t agreed any standards just yet – there are suggestions, and the sector welcomes any measures intended to raise industry standards and provide clarity for motorists and operators alike.

Finally, for landowners with parking to regulate or monetise, there are a number of ethical parking management firms out there to work with, who operate with robust, legal processes and within the law. Many are accredited with the International Parking Community (IPC) or British Parking Association (BPA) and landowners can work with them to resolve car parking abuse on their property.

Parking management isn’t some dirty secret or the lawless wild west. Effective, lawful management of parking is a service sector that is crucial to the UK’s social and economic recovery as it helps provide all motorists with access to high streets, hospitals and homes.

CAMFIL HVAC Filtration Solutions

Staff Reporter

FMIndustry.com covers the latest news, trends and opinion from the facilities management (FM) and corporate real estate (CRE) sectors. The FM market is currently estimated to be worth USD 1 trillion annually and is projected to grow at a compounded annualised rate of approximately 5% between now and 2026.

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