Tag Archive | "car parking"

Challenge that Ticket!

Parking is the motoring issue that seems to get drivers most worked up. Certainly, there are people who park badly or inconsiderately but – and this happens a lot despite the recent parking rule changes – many drivers have a feeling of injustice or being cheated or ripped off when they’ve parked somewhere without knowing there were restrictions in place.

These days, thankfully, the 2012 Protection of Freedoms Act has made it a criminal offence for private land owners or their agents to clamp or tow a vehicle with lawful authority. This has put paid to cowboy clampers, what about the ones issuing unscrupulous tickets? This has recently been highlighted in the news and on TV programmes like Watchdog. If you feel you’ve been unfairly ticketed whilst parking on private land it pays to know where you stand regarding the law.

P1 Challenge that Ticket!Broadly speaking, there are three main types of parking ticket: The police issued fixed penalty notices, Councils penalty charge notices and PPCs or private parking company notices. PPCs are for breach of contract or trespass. With a PPC ticket, you are being issued with a charge, imposed under civil law, for breaching a contract or trespass to property.

The contract – where signage is clearly visible which sets out the charges for parking on private land it is implied that parking on that land forms a contract between the driver of the vehicle and the landowner. Therefore, you can be charged for breaching the terms of the contract. Trespass to property – If a party enters private land without permission the land owner is entitled to compensation.

So take this issue really carefully and make sure you read signage when you enter a private car park because it outlines the terms of the contract that you could well end up breaching if you are not careful. The terms may include, for example, free parking being limited to two hours, and being charged for overstaying your welcome.

It is in your own interests to examine the area closely to make sure the signage is visible and clearly laid out. If you can’t find it or it is, in your opinion, inadequate in some way, then it may be prudent to take a photo of the area and where your car is parked and so on.

If you do feel unjustly treated then the most important factor to consider when appealing a private parking ticket is whether the company that is seeking to fine you is a member of the British Parking Association (BPA) which has a code of practice for control and enforcement. Car owners can contest private parking tickets with the independent body POPLA (parking on private land appeals) bearing in mind the following: You must first appeal to the PPC within 30 days or be barred from appealing to POPLA and that the appeals organisation only applies to BPA members.

When challenging private parking fines from non-BPA members you can refuse to pay and wait and see if court papers follow for breach of contract or trespass. To enforce a ticket the private parking firm would have to take you to court. Remember, you haven’t committed a criminal offence: rather, it’s a contract dispute between you and the private parking firm.

If it were to take you to court it would be a civil matter, and it is by no means certain that the company would win – which is where your photo evidence and the like comes in. Gather as much evidence as possible. The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 helps to provide protection for you from unscrupulous companies. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied. The law is on your side.

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Kerb Your Enthusiasm

With the advent of a new year comes new possibilities. At least, this is how Gwynedd Council in North Wales are looking at it. Apparently they have decided that it isn’t sufficient to just penalise drivers for parking in the wrong place or going over time in car parks, they now believe that how a car is parked is also ripe for exploitation.

This forward-looking council have started penalising any driver who parks more than fifty centimetres (that’s twenty inches in English) from the kerb. Do so and you’ll cop a £70 fine. Now, it’s fair to say that 50cm is quite a long way in gap terms and anyone parking in such a way could best be described as ‘sloppy’. Kerbing an alloy usually means an expensive repair, but most experienced drivers could probably manage to get within the limit as a matter of routine unless they stop in an enthusiastic manner to greet an old friend or to escape the attentions of an angry wasp in the cabin.

Anyone, even disabled drivers, will be punished even if there are no parking restrictions whatever. Traffic wardens are required to actually measure the gap, they can’t just estimate it by eye. Presumably they will take a snap as well. More pertinently and reasonably, they are also targeting motorists who park over dropped kerbs designed to accommodate pedestrians, wheel chair users and the like. That’s fair enough because blocking such access is a thoughtless action.

The council intends this as a warning to those who park, in their words, ‘recklessly’, which is a bit over-the-top, frankly; although some people are capable of such bad parking that they could impede emergency vehicles. They have done this, they say, in response to complaints about bad parking in popular holiday areas. They don’t actually say how many complaints but hey, why look a gift horse in the mouth?

Inevitably locals are outraged as they see it as yet another ruse to extract cash from the public. The sight of a kneeling traffic warden bending over the kerb, buttocks aloft, may prove to be just too tempting for some drivers to resist. It is things like this that give councils a bad name. It seems such a petty thing to do. By all means penalise people who park irresponsibly but to punish a pensioner for a simple error of judgement seems like a tax too far.

It is of course only a matter of time before other councils pick up on this and begin measuring kerb to tyre distances. Just one more thing for hard-pressed drivers to worry about. In the meantime, if you’re taking a holiday in North Wales this year make sure there’s a tape measure and a camera in the glove box! You didn’t hear it from us though.

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The Regulation of Signage and Ticketing Technology

That sounds important, doesn’t it? Well, it is. A Labour MP and all round superhero has put his pants on outside his trousers and plans to take on the rip-off rogues in our car parks. He is, like the general public, heartily sick of the tactics of dastardly parking operators and intends to do something about it.

His name is Nick Smith and he has introduced the above mentioned bill into Parliament. He believes that operators are making car park signs and systems and instructions as confusing as possible to mislead folk into making mistakes and getting their cars clamped.

This modern day avenger states that it is an easy matter to simplify these things and make the business of using a car park a straightforward and honest experience. It goes deeper than this. There has been a lot of fuss in the past about the size and clarity of signage and the subject’s been a mainstay of consumer broadcasting. Now though – and this is why Mr Smith is getting involved – this underhand behaviour appears to be rapidly developing into some form of industry-wide standard.

It seems that the landowner can trouser the hourly rate whilst the operator scoops up all the extras charges; so it stands to reason that the unscrupulous are likely to work towards increasing those extra charges to the max. Basically, the more confusing the signs, the more money will be raked in from unsuspecting drivers. Like a lot of things in modern day Britain, it is all a bit sickening. Everybody is fair game for everybody else. The person behind this new daylight robbery might well be your next door neighbour.

This private members bill was given an unopposed first reading but, and this is what usually happens, it will not make it into law because there will not be enough parliamentary time to debate and vote on it. Such is the fate of private members bills. The Commons spends so much time chewing over all the stuff put forward by HM Government – most of which will affect you about as much as the price of hamburgers in Tokyo – that it has no time to deal with easy to establish, sensible legislation which will actually aid the voters. This is how we carry on in this country and is why cheats always prosper. This too is a bit sickening.

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