Preston man welcomes 50% cut to the private park fine cap after he was 'unfairly' fined £75 in Lytham

A Preston motorist who says he was "unfairly" fined during a summer day out in Lytham has welcomed plans to cap private car parking fines.

By Colin Ainscough
Tuesday, 8th February 2022, 8:21 am
Motorists will receive greater protection from "aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees" through a 50% cut to the private parking fine cap, the Government has said.
Motorists will receive greater protection from "aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees" through a 50% cut to the private parking fine cap, the Government has said.

Motorists will receive greater protection from “aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees” through a 50% cut to the private parking fine cap, the Government has said.

Under a new Parking Code of Practice introduced by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on Monday, the maximum fine will be reduced from £100 to £50 for most cases in England and Wales, excluding London.

Private car parks will also have to display prices more clearly, use a fairer appeal system and give drivers a 10-minute grace period for lateness, according to the new rules.

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The maximum charge will be reduced to £50 in most cases, or £70 for more serious breaches.

Nick, 23, from Preston, said he was unfairly fined £75 and felt bullied into paying it despite having proof he had paid within the 15-minute limit.

He said: “It was a busy day in Lytham in the height of summer back two years ago or so.

“The grace period was 15 minutes to pay for ticket, but I sorted some things in the car and this with the queue time took me to the 15 minutes.

“I returned to my car and the ticket bloke was there and because he’d ‘started an entry he couldn’t stop it’.

“The time of him issuing (when he started his entry) was the same time I had purchased the ticket and returned to my car.

“The company in question were very bullying over the charge so we just settled.

“We proved we had paid within the period through sending imagery of the ticket I purchased but they wouldn’t have it.”

He added: “Tighter regulations are needed as there is no way that if you purchase within the same minute of issue that you should get fined.”

Under the new code, private firms who breach the rules could also be banned from collecting fines in future, by having their access to Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data cut off.

Minister for levelling up, Neil O’Brien, said the new measures aim to protect motorists from “aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees”.

He said: “Private firms issue roughly 22,000 parking tickets every day, often adopting a system of misleading and confusing signage, aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees designed to extort money from motorists.

“The new Code Of Practice will set out a clear vision with the interests of safe motorists at its heart, while cracking down on the worst offenders who put other people in danger and hinder our emergency services from carrying out their duties.”

Vehicle insurance and breakdown companies the AA and RAC have welcomed the new code.

President of the AA, Edmund King, said: “These much-needed upgrades to private parking rules will give better protection to drivers.

“For too long, those caught by private parking firms simply pay the charge to get rid of it. Thankfully these days are numbered.

Drivers should feel confident that having a single Code of Practice and a new Appeals Charter will give them confidence to appeal and be properly heard.

“We are also pleased that honest mistakes, like mistyping the car registration into the machine, will now be automatically cancelled.”

RAC head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, added: “The RAC has campaigned for years to end the sharp practices in the private parking sector, so we welcome the new national code that will usher in higher standards and will introduce a lower cap on penalty charge notices, an independent appeals system and an end to rip-off debt collection fees.

“This will undoubtedly make drivers’ experience of using private car parks fairer while at the same time force rogue operators to clean up their acts once and for all.”