Private parking companies labeled ‘bullies’ for bid to block slashing maximum fines from £100 to £50
Private parking companies are being labeled ‘bullies’ as they try to block bid to lower maximum fines from £100 to £50
- Independent parking companies have started legal action to block the fine
- Plans to prevent debt collectors from chasing motorists could also be blocked
- The AA president has labeled private parking in the UK as the ‘wild west’
Parking companies were labeled ‘bullies’ last night after taking legal action against ministers over their plans to lower maximum fines from £100 to £50.
Several parking giants have filed lawsuits against a new code of conduct designed to better protect drivers from ‘cowboy’ operators, the Daily Mail can reveal.
It means that the proposal to cut fines by half can now be thwarted. Plans to ban debt collectors from pursuing motorists who fail to pay within a time limit may also fall through after the government pulled out of legal challenges.
But other measures, such as a mandatory 10-minute grace period before companies can fine drivers whose tickets have expired, continue.
British motorists have waited years for reforms to parking enforcement rules, which were finally announced in February – but the latest legal action could water them down considerably
Parkingeye and Euro Car Parks are two of the largest private parking companies in the UK, but the exact companies protesting the government’s plans are unknown
So are plans to create a simpler and fairer independent appeals process to give more drivers the benefit of the doubt in cases of honest mistakes, such as entering the wrong vehicle registration number at a ticket machine.
But the prospect of ‘Wild West’ parking companies continuing to impose fines of up to £100 is a major blow to motorists amid the cost of living.
The changes are also bad news for the thousands who refuse to pay fines after protesting that they were being treated unfairly, only to be hunted by debt collectors.
Motorists have been waiting for years for the reforms, which were announced in February.
Parkingeye, Britain’s largest car parking company, and Euro Car Parks are among the companies seeking judicial assessments. Both have been approached for comment.
Whitehall sources confirmed that officials have “gived in” to parking companies’ arguments about capping fines and banning debt collectors.
The planned reforms include measures such as protection against drivers who accidentally enter the wrong license plate and 10-minute grace periods after the expiry of a parking time limit.
The firms said the legal case for the measures was not strong enough.
The cabinet will now discuss the measures more broadly in the hope that the lawsuit can be strengthened and that they can continue.
Parking companies have also argued that the current limit should be increased to £120. They argue that lowering it to £50 would lead to more motorists breaking parking rules because, if paid for at a reduced rate within 14 days, a ticket would be cheaper would be then pay for parking.
AA President Edmund King said, “For too long, private parking enforcement has been allowed to degenerate into a Wild West where cowboy operators have been able to drive into a town and set their own rules and penalties.
“The judicial review is a setback, but the government must stand up and restore order to those who like to bully motorists.”
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘If the private parking industry had been as willing to implement these important reforms as it was to issue tickets, we would probably have started using the new system by now.’
A government spokesman said last night that the new code would still apply to motorists even if the fine cap and direct debit ban were not introduced.
“We will continue to work with industry and consumer groups to implement the code as soon as possible,” he said.