In January’s Parking Review (no. 367), Will Hurley of the International Parking Community (IPC) talks about the need for the new statutory Parking Code of Practice to be implemented as soon as possible.
My organisation, the British Motorists’ Protection Association (BMPA), is dedicated to helping motorists to fight the unfair and predatory practices of private parking operators.
We can agree with Will Hurley that the government has dragged its heels over this issue, and needs to get the code implemented in statute as soon as possible. However, the rest of Hurley’s article rehearses the usual spin that emanate from the private parking industry, attempting to mislead the government just as they did in 2012 with Schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act, when they exaggerated the scale of the problem by over 100 times.
Ever since Sir Greg Knight’s bill became law, it was always inevitable that private parking charges would be brought into line with council fixed penalties – £50 generally, and £80 in London – and yet the parking companies, and their trade associations, continue to bleat and moan that this will result in reduced compliance rates.
What they conveniently overlook, is the fact that in a council off-street car park, a motorist will only get a ticket if a warden happens to patrol at the time the vehicle is parked, so they can park without paying, and take a chance on getting away with it.
Whereas, in a private car park, most of which are equipped with ANPR, 100% of visits are captured, and any motorist who fails to pay the tariff, or overstays the time, will receive a charge notice.
Hurley also suggests that 99.77% of parking ‘events’ are concluded in accordance with the terms and conditions. Which begs the question, why do we need the whole infrastructure of private parking operators when only 0.23% of parking events are not compliant? Sledgehammers and nuts come to mind.
We have spent the past 10-plus years helping motorists to successfully appeal private parking charges, and supporting those who are taken to court, with very high success rates. Whilst we acknowledge that there are a tiny percentage of motorists who deliberately flout the rules, the vast majority are ordinary people going about their legitimate business, and who fall foul of unclear or misleading signage, or who are held up in checkout queues, or whose hospital appointment takes longer than expected, and a host of other reasons.
It is manifestly unfair that these people should be gouged to the tune of £100 for such minor occurrences, and even more unfair that they should then be hit with fake ‘debt recovery’ charges of £60 or £70 on top.
Those who choose to fight such unfairness are then pursued through the courts by solicitor firms (including Gladstones Solicitors, with which Hurley has a close association), and many district judges who hear these cases are thoroughly fed up with the misleading antics of such firms and their clients.
For the past 10 years, the private parking industry has been riding a gravy train at the expense of motorists, and has generated enormous wealth for the company owners. The government must delay no further, and put in place the measures that will bring this sorry saga to an end.
David Carrod is chair of British Motorists’ Protection Association (BMPA).
He is a legal adviser with considerable experience of attending court hearings, both in the County Court and Magistrates’ Court, assisting defendants as either a lay representative or McKenzie Friend.
The BMPA is an informal, unincorporated association, comprising some 20 members with expertise in various areas, and including a practising solicitor and a retired barrister.
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