As part of the new package of measures, announced by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities today (Monday 7 February), fines will be slashed by 50 percent to help save motorists ‘millions of pounds each year’.
The maximum charge in England – excluding London – and Wales will be reduced from £100 to £50 in most cases, or £70 for more serious breaches.
Other proposals include a 10-minute grace period before a late fine can be issued, and a new requirement for private car parks to display prices more clearly and use a fairer appeal system.
The government said in a press release that private firms are currently ‘able to hide behind non-specific, pseudo-legal and aggressive language when pursuing motorists’, but promise that the Code of Practice would ‘provide new higher standards’.
Rogue firms that break the rules could be banned from requesting Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data, making them unable to collect fines in the future.
“A new, simpler appeals process is also being created, to make it easier for disputed fines to be cancelled,” the government added.
Neil O’Brien, Minister for Levelling Up, said the new measures aim to protect motorists from ‘aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees’.
He said: “Private firms issue roughly 22,000 parking tickets every day, often adopting a system of misleading and confusing signage, aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees designed to extort money from motorists.
“The new Code Of Practice will set out a clear vision with the interests of safe motorists at its heart, while cracking down on the worst offenders who put other people in danger and hinder our emergency services from carrying out their duties.”
The new Code of Practice has been welcomed by vehicle insurance and breakdown companies such as the AA and RAC, who say the change will make things ‘fairer’.
Edmund King, President of the AA, said: “These much-needed upgrades to private parking rules will give better protection to drivers.
“For too long, those caught by private parking firms simply pay the charge to get rid of it. Thankfully these days are numbered.
“Drivers should feel confident that having a single Code of Practice and a new Appeals Charter will give them confidence to appeal and be properly heard.
“We are also pleased that honest mistakes, like mistyping the car registration into the machine, will now be automatically cancelled.”
Nicholas Lyes, Head of Roads Policy at RAC, added: “The RAC has campaigned for years to end the sharp practices in the private parking sector, so we welcome the new national code that will usher in higher standards and introduce a lower cap on penalty charge notices, an independent appeals system and an end to rip-off debt collection fees.
“This will undoubtedly make drivers’ experience of using private car parks fairer, while at the same time force rogue operators to clean up their acts once and for all.”
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
Topics: UK News