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Parking associations to publish single code of practice

BPA and IPC find common ground on management of private land

Mark Moran
26 April 2024
Membership of the Approved Operator Schemes run by the BPA and IPC enable the parking companies to access vehicle keeper data held by DVLA in order to issue parking charge notices to motorists who breach terms and conditions for using private land
Membership of the Approved Operator Schemes run by the BPA and IPC enable the parking companies to access vehicle keeper data held by DVLA in order to issue parking charge notices to motorists who breach terms and conditions for using private land

 

The UK’s two parking associations are to produce a single code of practice to be used across the entire private parking sector. The BPA (British Parking Association) and the IPC (International Parking Community) say their joint code is designed to raise standards while delivering greater transparency and consistency for the benefit of motorists.

The new single code introduces an ‘Appeals Charter’ that creates what the associations feel are clear and unvarying parameters for motorists to appeal against a parking charge.

The joint code mandates a 10-minute grace period for motorists, sets out consistent rules for operators and requires clear signage to help motorists navigate parking on private land.

The new code also ensures the protection of the most vulnerable in society, with no decrease to the deterrent for abuse of Blue Badge bays or those who choose to park selfishly, putting their own convenience above the needs or rights of others.

Parking on private land

The new code will supersede the associations’ existing rules for parking companies that are members of their respective Approved Operator Schemes. Membership of these schemes enable the parking companies to access vehicle keeper data held by DVLA in order to issue parking charge notices (PCNs) to motorists who breach terms and conditions for using private land.

The Parking (Code of Practice) Bill was enacted on 15 March 2019, paving the way for the introduction of a single code of practice for car park management companies alongside the creation of an independent appeals service and scrutiny body.

In February 2022 the government first introduced but subsequently withdrew the Private Parking Code of Practice following a legal challenge by some parking operators.

The sector is still awaiting an updated version of the Private Parking Code of Practice from government. In the meantime, the associations have united to ensure the key elements of the government’s code are implemented as soon as they can be.

Changes for motorists

The new code will be published in June 2024. It will introduce:

  • a mandated 10-minute grace period for motorists
  • consistent signage standards
  • a single set of rules for all parking operators on private land
  • an appeals charter for those who receive parking charge with mitigating circumstances.

The code is due to be implemented on 1 October 2024, with existing sites expected to bring their signage up to requirements, and be within full compliance by late 2026.

Andrew Pester, chief executive of the BPA, said: “We are delighted to introduce a single code of practice across the private parking sector. This is a crucial milestone as we work closely with government, consumer bodies and others to deliver fairer and more consistent parking standards for motorists. We will continue to push for a positive outcome for all.”

Will Hurley, chief executive officer of the IPC, added: “This is a long-awaited day, the sector has been calling for a single code of practice for a long time and we are proud to be committing to it. The single code will benefit all compliant motorists and will present clear consequences for those who decide to break the rules. The sector has listened to the motoring community and today we are acting.”

The British Parking Association and the International Parking Community have committed to continue to work together to achieve the following:

  • update and maintain the code
  • provide guidance on the code interpretation
  • maintain a consistent sanction scheme
  • create more consistent second stage appeals process.

An oversight group will ensure that interpretation of the code is consistent and to give guidance and update the code where
necessary.

The official code is coming...

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) welcomed the parking sector’s plans to publish a new code, but appears to regard this as an interim measure.

A spokesperson told Parking Review: “We are pleased to see the industry has recognised the unfairness of the current private parking system and the need for change by introducing this single industry code. Whilst this is a positive step forward, it is only through the introduction of our Private Parking Code of Practice that we will strengthen the existing system of regulation.

The government says that its code is still being reviewed. The DLUHC spokesperson said: “We have had to revisit the decisions in the code relating to parking charge caps and debt recovery fees, involving conducting a Call for Evidence and carrying out another public consultation before final decisions can be taken. The government is committed to working with industry and consumer groups to see the new government Private Parking Code of Practice reintroduced as soon as possible.”

The RAC reacts

The RAC has previously called on the government and MPs to act after being contacted by drivers who felt the actions of private parking companies were entirely unreasonable. In 2017, Sir Greg Knight MP introduced the Parking (Code of Practice) Bill which received Royal Assent in 2019 with cross-party backing and Government support.

Following the announcement by the private parking industry that it is to introduce its own 'code of conduct', RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: “We’re flabbergasted that the BPA and IPC have suddenly announced plans to introduce their own ‘private parking code’ after doing all they can over the last five years to prevent the official Government Code created by an Act of Parliament coming into force.

“While there are clearly some positive elements to what the private parking industry is proposing, it conveniently avoids some of the biggest issues around caps on penalty charges and debt recovery fees which badly need to be addressed to prevent drivers being taken advantage of. These elements, alongside a formal appeals process, are currently being worked on by the government and in our opinion can’t come soon enough. Nothing should stand in the way of the official code, least of all a new industry scheme which muddies the waters and risks confusing drivers.

“For the private parking industry to all of a sudden paint themselves as being whiter than white with their own ‘code’ and appeals charter takes irony to another level.”

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