After a government decision, private car parks will have to display prices more clearly, introduce a fairer appeal system and give drivers a grace period in the event of delays. The crackdown comes after thousands of drivers criticized private car park operators for making it difficult to appeal fines and tickets under any circumstances.
Operators will be required to fully adhere to the new Code by the end of 2023, when the new one-stop-shop service is expected to be operational.
Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay, said complaints about private parking companies are frequently seen in his parliamentary inbox.
He said the actions of these companies “can ruin the lives of local residents while managing the experience of visitors to Cornwall”.
Mr Double added: “There are many excellent locally run private car parks, but these bad apples can damage the reputation of the industry.
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“I have long campaigned for a fairer and better regulated set of rules for users of private car parks, having served on the bill committee for this legislation when it passed through Parliament and speaking out on behalf of those who m have contacted in the past.”
‘The Private Parking Code of Conduct achieves these ambitions, creates a fair and level playing field for the industry and will protect users of private car parks from the misbehavior we have seen in the past,’ he told Cornwall Live .
Between April and June 2021, nearly two million parking tickets were issued to drivers by private parking companies.
These companies have grown by nearly two-thirds over the past five years.
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Under the new private parking code of practice, most fines for users of private car parks will be capped at £50, up from £100 currently.
Greater financial consequences will remain for more serious infractions, such as parking in Blue Badge spaces.
As with most Penalty Notices (PCNs), motorists will get a 50% reduction if they pay the fine within 14 days.
Operators who fail to follow the rules could be barred from collecting fines from motorists.
AA President Edmund King also supported changing the law, adding: “For too long those caught by private parking companies are just paying the fees to get rid of them.
“Fortunately, those days are numbered.
“Drivers need to be confident that having a single code of practice and a new appeal charter will give them the confidence to appeal and be properly heard.”
It is hoped the plans will allow private parking companies to better align with municipally run car parks.
It will also mean that excessive collection charges for late tickets will be banned, with some fines of up to £70.
Parking companies will have to display parking fees and terms and conditions more clearly, with motorists given a 10-minute grace period before they can be issued a late fine.
Another five-minute “cooling off period” will be introduced during which a motorist can change their mind about parking.
An RAC spokesman said: ‘It will undoubtedly make drivers’ experience of using private car parks fairer while forcing dishonest operators to clean up their deeds once and for all.’
The RAC had campaigned for changes to the parking law for many years, saying the change to the law would “end acerbic practices in the private parking industry”.