As part of government plans to crack down on “rogue operators”, private parking sites could be forced to grant commercial and domestic drivers a ten-minute grace period after the expiry of their parking tickets before issuing penalties.
The British Standards Institution has been instructed by Local Government secretary, Robert Jenrick to implement a new code of practice for private car park operators. The new code would enforce private operators to operate in line with the policy of council-owned car parks, which have adhered to ten-minute parking ticket grace periods across England for the last four years.
Private companies that fail to comply with the new Code will be refused access to details on the owners of registered vehicles from the DVLA, thereby preventing them from prosecuting.
Since 2015, English council-owned car parks have been forced to implement a ten-minute grace period for all vehicles, but many fleets have been stung by unwittingly parking in private car parks only to realise that the operator has not followed suit with the grace period.
Once the proposed legislation is active, all privately-owned car parks in England, Scotland and Wales will be forced to offer this ten-minute grace period prior to issuing parking tickets.
“For too long rogue parking firms have operated in an unregulated industry, handing out unjust fines, putting drivers through baffling appeals processes and issuing tickets to motorists who were only seconds late back to their cars,” said Jenrick.
“The new Code will restore common sense to the way parking fines are handed out, encourage people back onto our high-streets and crack down on dodgy operators who use aggressive tactics to harass drivers.”
Some unsavoury private parking operators are also known to adopt intimidatory debt collection practices, which the Code seeks to redress in the coming months. The introduction of an independent appeals service will give motorists a fairer forum to challenge unnecessarily tough private parking fines.
The government’s Parking (Code of Practice) Act was given Royal Assent back in March, which was a much-needed boost for fleets.
Although the two parking trade associations in the UK, the British Parking Association and the International Parking Community, have their own Codes of Practice for members to abide by, a single set of rules for all private parking operators will provide clarity for all concerned.
Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy, RAC, said: “The code will create more consistent standards across the board which should eliminate dubious practices and create a single, independent appeals process.
“The Act builds on action the government has already taken to tackle rogue private parking firms, including banning wheel clamping and towing and stopping over-zealous parking enforcement by councils and parking wardens.”