An overwhelming majority of motorists are supportive of the private member’s bill to introduce better regulation of private parking companies which gets its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday.
Ninety-three per cent of 1,429 drivers surveyed by the RAC think Sir Greg Knight MP’s Parking (Code of Practice) Bill is a good idea, with a further 81% saying private parking firms have a bad reputation.
The top reason cited by motorists for this poor reputation is that the level of fines, or parking charge notices as they are properly known, is disproportionate to the contravention with 84% claiming this to be the case. Nearly three-quarters (72%) said car park signs, which contain the all-important terms and conditions, were often hard to read or hidden, and 69% believe the fees they charge for parking are too high. In addition, nearly two-thirds stated that the companies operate aggressive debt collection policies.
The RAC, which has repeatedly called on the Government to introduce better regulation of the largely unregulated private parking sector, welcomed Sir Greg’s bill when it was first put before Parliament in July 2017. Now, however, the bill looks certain to become law after Communities Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed earlier this week that the Government would support its passage through Parliament.
Asked what they would most like to see the bill deliver, 81% of motorists cited a national standard on signs outlining parking rates and consequences of breaking the rules. Seventy-eight per cent want a parking regulator which enforces a code of practice and three-quarters (74%) want fines, or parking charge notice amounts for contraventions, to be capped. And, 72% would like to see the introduction of a national system to appeal against parking charge notices, regardless of which operator issues them.
RAC roads policy spokesman Nicholas Lyes said: “The motorists we questioned expressed very strong views about the practices of private parking companies, presumably based on numerous unfortunate experiences so it is excellent news that the Government will support Sir Greg Knight’s bill into law. The RAC has long campaigned for such a code to be introduced so we are hopeful this will lead to a better experience for everyone who uses car parks run by private parking companies.
“Importantly, this bill will facilitate a set of national guidelines which we hope will make the appeals’ process simpler, tighten access to the DVLA database and bring higher standards to a sector which clearly has a poor reputation among motorists.”
In order to raise consumer confidence the RAC believes the bill must ultimately address the following areas:
- Minimum standards of conduct which would include:
- a set of enforcement standards
- improved conditions for access to the DVLA database
- a ban on ‘shop a motorist’ style practices that incentivise ticketing
- a fair and an effective national appeals’ process
- A ban on so-called ghost ticketing and incentivising ticketing
- Guidance on the size of penalties to ensure that they are proportionate to the amount of time overstayed and subject to an overall cap
- Minimum standards of conduct for private parking companies when attempting to recoup penalty charges, to discourage over-aggressive debt management
For advice on how to appeal and avoid private parking penalty charge notices visit the Drive section of RAC website.