Monthly journal Parking Review has been the definitive source of news and intelligence on the UK and international public and private parking sectors since 1989.

Parking sector publishes code of practice for private land

BPA and IPC agree a unified approach while government’s code remains on ice

27 June 2024
The parking sector Single Code of Practice: Version 1
The parking sector Single Code of Practice: Version 1

 

A new code of practice has been published for providers of parking on private land by the two trade associations serving the sector.

The British Parking Association (BPA) and the International Parking Community (IPC) have published a single code of practice to be used across the entire private parking sector.

The trade bodies say the 60-page single code, which supersedes their previously separate codes, will raise standards and deliver greater transparency and consistency for the benefit of motorists.

The new sector code can be downloaded here

The single code:

  • Introduces an Appeals Charter, creating clear parameters for motorists to appeal against a parking charge
  • Mandates a 10-minute grace period for motorists
  • Provides consistent rules for private parking operators
  • Requires clear signage to help motorists navigate parking on private land.  
  • 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.
  • Maintains a cap on the parking charge at £100 reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.

Private parking operators will implement the new single code by 1 October 2024 with all existing sites needing to be updated by December 2026.

Andrew Pester, BPA chief executive said: “We are delighted to release a single sector Code across our private parking sector. This is a key 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, IPC chief executive officer said: “This new code will create positive change across the UK, enhancing the protection of the most vulnerable in society, whilst creating consistency and clarity for motorists and continuing to elevate standards across the sector.”

Both the BPA and IPC are trade associations accredited by the DVLA to run schemes that enable member companies to obtain vehicle keeper data in order to collect unpaid parking charge notices issued on private land. This procedure was set up when the use of wheel clamping on private land was banned under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

Until now the BPA and IPC’s approved operator schemes have had separate codes of conduct.

The new code sees a greater degree of harmonisation in areas such as the sanctions that each association will impose on member operators for breaches of the code, up to the loss of access to DVLA data.

The trade associations currently provide separate adjudication services to which drivers who want to lodge appeal a parking charge. These services will remain separate under the sector code.

A Private Members Bill, proposed by Sir Greg Knight MP, that enabled the introduction of a legislation-backed code of conduct gained cross-party and support and received Royal Assent in March 2019.

The government draw up a code that included halving the cap on tickets for most parking offences to £50 and created a single appeals system. However, this code was withdrawn by in June 2022 following a legal challenge by parking companies.

The revised government code was set to be put out for consultation at the end of May. However, prime minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to call a general election means consultation on the new code has been postponed. A footnote: helping the Parking (Code of Practice) Bill progress through Parliament was a process overseen by Sunak when he was a local government minister.

The parking associations say their unified code has been drafted to reflect the positive aspects of the government code, so that the sector will be prepared for the re-emergence of the government version at a future. However, motoring organisations argue the parking sector should not be left to self-regulate as this does not deliver the controls envisaged.

AA head of roads policy Jack Cousens said: “It’s somewhat ironic that after pushing so hard against adopting a code, the two bodies have decided to implement their own.

“This watered down code of practice falls far short of the standards the AA, government and consumer groups have called for across many years. This self-authored code doesn’t acknowledge the need to cap charges and remove debt recovery fees.

“These elements are desperately needed from a government-backed code to protect innocent drivers from the sharks running private car parks.”

RAC head of policy Simon Williams was equally critical of the sector code, stating: “Drivers shouldn’t be fooled into thinking this so-called code developed by the private parking industry itself is the same as the long-delayed official private parking code of practice that is backed by legislation.

“This, and only this, will bring an end to the worst practices of some private parking operators and mean drivers – especially those who are vulnerable – are protected from unreasonable fines and debt collectors chasing down payments.”

Analysis of government data by motoring research charity the RAC Foundation suggested that 9.7 million parking charge notices were issued to drivers by private parking companies in Britain between April and December last year.

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