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Legislation aimed at putting parking cowboys out of business becomes law

Drivers will be able to more easily challenge unfair tickets through a new independent appeals service.

(Chris Ison/PA)
(Chris Ison/PA)

Legislation aimed at putting Britain’s rogue car park operators out of business has officially become law.

Speaker John Bercow told MPs that Conservative former minister Sir Greg Knight’s Parking (Code of Practice) Bill has received royal assent – meaning the Queen has agreed to make it into an Act of Parliament.

Sir Greg said the legislation will “bring fairness to motorists around the country”.

The Act is designed to stop firms accessing the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) database – thereby limiting their ability to issue tickets – unless they comply with a new code of conduct.

Drivers will also be able to more easily challenge unfair tickets through a new independent appeals service.

Parking companies obtain records from the DVLA to chase vehicle owners for alleged infringements in private car parks at locations such as shopping centres, leisure facilities and motorway service areas.

Each resultant penalty charge can cost drivers up to £100.

Sir Greg’s Bill was supported by the Government and Labour.

Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Millions of us use private car parks every day, but for far too many drivers slapped with unjust fines this largely unregulated industry feels like the Wild West.

“Too often, I hear of awful treatment at the hands of dodgy parking firms, from problems paying for parking to intimidating demands for payment and baffling appeals processes.

“From today, we’re able to cut out the rogue operators by creating a single Code of Practice and giving drivers greater protection through a new appeals service.”

Analysis of Government figures by motoring research charity the RAC Foundation shows that more than 18,000 parking tickets are being handed to British drivers every day.

Some 1.7 million vehicle keeper records were requested by parking management firms in the second quarter of 2018-19.

This is the highest total on record for a single quarter and represents a 20% increase year-on-year.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “Sir Greg is to be congratulated for his success in uniting MPs and peers alike to deliver the Parking (Code of Practice) Act the private parking industry so clearly needs.

“The Act will tackle an issue which our figures show affects millions of motorists each year.

“We look forward to supporting the Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak as he now moves to put in place the code of practice, appeals and scrutiny mechanisms that the Act provides.”

Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at motoring organisation the RAC, said unscrupulous private parking operators have “sent levels of trust in the sector plummeting”.

Andrew Pester, chief executive of trade body the British Parking Association, said the legislation will create a “single standard setting body” which will lead to “greater consistency and consumer confidence”.

The DVLA charges private firms £2.50 per record.

The agency says its charges are set to recover the cost of providing the information and it does not make money from the process.

– Here are the number of vehicle keeper records obtained from the DVLA by parking management companies since 2006-07:

2017-18: 5.65 million

2016-17: 4.71 million

2015-16: 3.67 million

2014-15: 3.06 million

2013-14: 2.43 million

2012-13: 1.89 million

2011-12: 1.57 million

2010-11: 1.17 million

2009-10: 1.03 million

2008-09: 687,000

2007-08: 499,000

2006-07: 272,000

Press Association

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