Parking (Code of Practice) Bill

Although the vast majority of privately owned car parks treat their customers with respect, there are still far too many rogue operators. As Members are aware, a common scenario takes place whereby people park their car, pay for a ticket and leave without giving it a second through, but receive a parking ticket in the post some days later demanding an up-front payment within a specified timescale. If they do not pay right away, the fine may double—it is pay now or pay more. The difficulty in such a situation is that the onus is on the owner of the car to prove not only that they have paid to park, but that the ticket was displayed appropriately, when the evidence is all with the person trying to impose the charge. These charges are often accompanied by threatening and aggressive letters that, in their own right, cause a great deal of distress to those receiving them. It is understandable why so many people in receipt of such charges feel pressured into paying them straightaway, partly due to the escalating cost.

The Bill is needed because some firms are not playing by the rules and are not being fair to car park users, and there is sometimes not a clear and fair appeals process. Such companies should simply not have privileged access to public and official databases such as those maintained by the DVLA. The only surprise to most of us is that this is not already the case because it seems so blindingly obvious.

The damage caused by these unfair notices is not just to the people receiving the charges; the wider community also suffers. Unfair parking charges and penalties cause a culture of avoidance. People stay away from those car parks and become more fearful of pay and display car parking. This is having an impact on our town centres, as drivers are concerned that a trip to the town centre could result in an arbitrary penalty. We need this Bill to pass not only for the sake of our constituents, who are directly affected, but for the sake of our local economies.