The issue of private parking fines

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The RAC has revealed that 93% of drivers are backing a proposed bill to regulate private parking. With 84% of drivers finding the fines to be a poor reflection of the offence, and two thirds finding the collection of fines by private parking firms to be too aggressive, it’s clear that the issue needs to be addressed. Volkswagen dealership Vindis group has created the following article to explore the matter in greater detail.

Drivers have the right to pursue a refund, says the RAC, as the Daily Mirror reported on how millions of tickets are illegal. Professor Stephen Glaister, RAC Foundation director, comments: “We estimate that in 2013 alone drivers might have been overcharged by some £100 million.”

Parking fines were said to be costing people in the UK a staggering £94 million a year as of 2017, with certain cities issuing half a million tickets. According to UK Carline, Brent, Croydon and Bristol were the cities that drivers were most likely to be hit with a parking fine. All three cities had issues more than 250,000 fines in 2016. Brent in particular soared ahead of other cities across the UK, issuing 537,128 fines across the three-year period. The top ten councils with the highest number of issued parking fines is as follows:

Rank City No. parking fines issued
(over three years)
1 Brent 537,128
2 Croydon 339,121
3 Bristol 267,913
4 Ealing 236,733
5 Newcastle 221,659
6 Enfield 189,619
7 Sheffield 155,552
8 Leicester 147,358
9 Bradford 141,692
10 Plymouth 121,429


The amount of penalties issued over a three year period in the UK came to an astounding 2,752,900, with 2016 alone seeing 941,888 penalties issued. If each penalty was charged at the maximum fine of £100 per offence, these penalty charges could be costing motorists an astonishing £275,290,000 per year! And further figures from the RAC suggest these figures continued to rise in the month running up to Christmas 2017 – with figures signifying there was a 10% increase in the number of tickets issued when compared to 2016’s figures, with around 17,137 tickets issued every day. Furthermore, ParkingEye Ltd was found to have requested the largest amount of data from the DVLA, with more than 533,000 records obtained in the most recent quarter, at a cost of £2.50 a record.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding concluded that the data shows private parking firms as “looking to maximise their profits from drivers out and about doing their festive shopping”. An opinion that seems fair to dish out, considering 72% of drivers say that parking terms and conditions notices are often hard to read or hidden in car parks – with a further 69% claiming parking charges were too high.

There is also a pattern to the days that drivers are more likely to be hit with a fine, according to UK Carline. Their research revealed Saturday was the day most drivers were issued with a parking fine, whilst Sunday was the least likely. Figures show that just 235,584 tickets were issued on Sundays – a figure which still looks to be high but is significantly lower than the 430,035 tickets that were issued on Saturdays over the three-year period. Are drivers better behaved on Sundays? Or are parking firms more lenient?

An unexpected parking fine is relished by no one. The RAC suggests that there are a number of areas which need to be addressed within the newly proposed bill in order for it to be a wide success, shifting driver attitudes towards a more positive consumer confidence in private parking firms.

Road policy spokesman for the RAC, Nicholas Lyes, observed the following: “Importantly, this bill will facilitate a set of national guidelines which we hope will make the appeals’ process simpler, tighten access to the DVLA database and bring higher standards to a sector which clearly has a poor reputation among motorists.”

The reputation of firms is at stake, with 81% of drivers viewing them poorly.

As of January 2018, the future of parking fines was certainly looking to be addressed. The proposed Parking (Code of Practice) Bill from former Conservative minister, Sir Greg Knight, was expected to be heard by the House of Commons for a second time. The proposed new code of practice hoped to ensure fair treatment of motorists and parking firms alike – a practice that is clearly needed following data that shows ticketing has reached epidemic proportions. The RAC were pleased that the code of practice would mean that firms which did not comply with the new code would be blocked from accessing motorist’ information via the DVLA.

A Conservative MP describe the ‘war against motorists’ as being a potential pitfall for local councils. Permits and car parking expected to rocket by 45% in certain areas across the UK. This includes with the introduction of Sunday parking charges. With councils already racking up a huge £819 million in parking fines, fees and permits during 2016/17, how much could they be looking at making if charges increase by 45%? Motorists could be in for a shock – though also giving them more reason to fight back and support a bill to regulate private parking.

The issue of parking penalties has been raised to government level. Could we see the right changes being made in the near future? For motorists’ sake, let’s hope so.