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How will the private parking sector evolve?

Rival parking associations BPA and IPC take different stances on private land appeals services

13 November 2020
 

The UK’s two parking trade associations have adopted opposing responses to government proposals to create a single appeals service for motorists who want to contest parking charge notices issued on private land. The idea of a single appeals service is supported by the British Parking Association (BPA) but is being opposed by the International Parking Community (IPC).

Currently, the British Parking Association and International Parking Community operate separate codes of practice, approved operator schemes and appeals services.

Membership of the associations’ approved operator schemes enables parking operators to gain access to vehicle keeper information, which is needed to enforce parking charge notices issued on private land.

Both associations have established appeals services that allow motorists to challenge parking charge notices. The IPC’s service is called the Independent Appeals Service (IAS), while the BPA’s is Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA).

The (Parking Code of Practice) Act 2019 will replace both the parallel codes with a unified set of protocols. The government has suggested the creation of a single appeals service to supersede the IAS and POPLA. However, while the BPA supports the creation of a single appeals service, the IPC is not convinced by this idea.

The reform of the private parking sector is being overseen by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The British Standards Institution (BSI) was commissioned to develop a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) for the private parking sector that will create a single code of practice.

Both the MHCLG and BSI have now completed their parallel consultations and are analysing the feedback. The BSI will be collating its responses to the project steering group on which representatives of the two parking associations sit.

The MHCLG will prepare papers to present to ministers and a final version of the code is expected to appear in early 2021, with implementation due to take place later in the year.

International Parking Community
In its response to the MHCLG and BSI consultations, the International Parking Community (IPC) argues that the new Parking Code of Practice for private land must balance the needs of landowners, motorists and parking operators. It calls for protections for areas where parking is not permitted, such as drop-off and pick-up bays.
In a joint response submitted to both consultations, the IPC said it supports the government’s ambition to introduce a single code of practice that provides clarity to both motorists and landowners. It also backs the introduction of a ‘Scrutiny and Standards Board’ to improve transparency and the creation of an appeals charter.
However, the IPC has called for a series of changes to the proposals to ensure the final code and its regulation are properly balanced. These changes include:

  • protections to be included for landowners whose land is not intended for public parking at all, or where parking is only available on very short term, specific criteria. This is critical to ensure areas such as airport pick-up and drop-off zones or very short-stay car parks are not left open to abuse
  • the closure of some technical loopholes that could allow abuse of private land by a small minority of motorists in future
  • the introduction of a simpler, two-tier system for parking charges rather than the three-tier system being proposed to provide greater clarity to motorists
  • ensuring that camera technology can continue to be used to issue parking charges on private land
  • allowing more than one appeals service to operate as long as all appeals services comply with the existing standards set out in consumer protection regulations for alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

The IPC emphasises the importance of the parking charges being set at a level that is sufficient to deter the breaching of parking terms on private land. It set out that the consequence of non-payment of parking charge notices on public land were much more serious and highlighted that a higher level of charge was therefore required on private land to ensure sufficient deterrent remained in place.

Will Hurley, chief executive of the IPC said: “The introduction of a new code of practice for parking is an opportunity to simultaneously provide more clarity to motorists, enforce high standards among parking operators while ensuring that landowners can effectively manage their land for parking purposes.
“We support large elements of the proposals put forward by government but it is vital this gets implemented in a way that avoids loopholes and unintended consequences. It is critical to remember that this code is not just about the rules for public car parks, it applies to all private land. Less than 8% of the sites managed by our members are sites where the public are invited to park, either for free or for a fee. Many of the changes we have proposed are about ensuring that this code works in all relevant settings. Ultimately, we want to see a fair, proportionate process which is not open for abuse by land owners, operators or motorists.”
www.theipc.info

British Parking Association
The British Parking Association (BPA) supports the concept of creating a single code and single appeals service. It has also suggested the creation of a three-tiered parking charge and an ‘Appeals Charter’.

Steve Clark, BPA director of operations and business development, said: “We are pleased to be working closely with government and others, including consumers and motorist groups, to design a parking code and associated arrangements which provide an even fairer outcome for motorists, landowners and parking operators alike. We’ve always wanted a standard-setting body, a single code of practice, and a single independent appeals service, all of which are vital if we are to truly enable effective parking management on private land. We have worked closely with government, BSI and other stakeholders throughout the process to inform the development of PAS 232.

“We have listened to government and MP concerns and share their desire to produce standards that enable effective parking management that is fairer, clearer and more proportionate. The value of a parking charge has always been contentious. We have, therefore, put forward a proposal for a three-tier parking charge plus an appeals charter, which will be fairer, clearer and more proportionate for everyone.

“Having a three-tiered parking charge provides for more effective deterrents for anti-social parking that no stakeholders would condone, such as occupying Blue Badge bays. At the same time it provides for lower-tier charges for less serious breaches of parking terms and conditions, such as parking longer than permitted, or that has been paid for. Underpinned by the appeals charter this will remove many of the perceived and real injustices, for example, a permit falling off a dashboard or a simple keying error.”

The BPA has also given the government its views on how to revise regulations covering parking on railways. Steve Clark said: “Government has asked the BPA for its views on a range of proposals which would bring railway car parks under the provisions of the Protection of Freedoms Act (POFA). Broadly, we agree with their proposals but have made it clear that a practical implementation schedule is agreed to.”

The BPA is campaigning for clarity on the clauses in railway byelaws where they relate to parking controls. The association said that government officials have previously committed to providing clarification but, until then, the BPA has temporarily removed the requirement for its members who manage parking at railway locations under byelaws to offer an appeal via Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA).

Motorists who breach the advertised terms and conditions and receive a penalty notice and believe it has been unfairly issued are still able to appeal to the operator. When an operator follows up any unpaid penalty notices, motorists will also have an opportunity to put their case again at the Magistrates Court.

The BPA’s other proposals include:

  • Revoke the parking-related railway byelaws
  • Remove the ability to clamp and/or remove in areas designated for parking; Train Operating Companies (TOC), however, will retain powers to clamp and/or remove vehicles where the security of access to track and other safety-relevant assets on railway land is compromised
  • Bring railway car parks under the provisions of POFA, meaning railway land becomes ‘relevant land’. This will enable members to hold vehicle keepers liable for parking contraventions as if they were the driver.

Additionally, the BPA envisages motorists who receive a parking charge notice in a railway car park being able to have their appeal heard by the proposed single independent appeals service for parking on private land.
www.britishparking.co.uk

 
 
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