The vast majority of us do not like breaking the rules when it comes to driving – and especially if it means being out of pocket for doing so.
But a blight that continues to escalate, despite frequent promises of action is the menace of private parking charges.
My wife and I have received three of these daft charges in the last five years. Each one of them unjust, and each one I have had to take time to appeal – only to get the charge quashed.
Most of my friends and family have similar tales of nuisance. Charges arriving through the post after being caught on an ANPR camera in a car park, often despite paying or seemingly doing nothing wrong.
Parking sharks: Charging to use a car park is fine – but 11.1m parking charges in a year dished out by private firms is simply not on
Private parking charges have been catapulted back to my conscience again in recent weeks.
We have long campaigned about the unfairness of charges being dished out like confetti for what seem to be the most innocuous of reasons.
Indeed, a relatively unknown MP in March 2019 wrote a comment piece for This is Money saying that the system was being sorted and the madness would be reined in.
That MP? Rishi Sunak – now Prime Minister, who has been vocal on the ‘war on motorists’ in recent times. Surely getting to grips with these out-of-control charges would have been an easy win. Four years have passed.
But a mooted code of practice, which could do things such as help cap charges and ban debt recovery fees is a can that seems to have kicked along the road for years.
The reason for parking charges coming back on my radar is two-fold.
Firstly, a truly astonishing Crane on the Case last week, in which someone was handed one of these charges after getting caught in a McDonalds drive-thru queue for one minute too long.
The private parking company did see sense after we contacted it – and has since changed the terms on the car park, but why does it need our involvement?
The driver in question received the charge on a bank holiday, and rather than it ruining his weekend, simply paid it. Thankfully, we got him a refund. But how many more people over the years have needlessly paid in a fluster?
Secondly, it was revealed that drivers have been hit by a 29 per cent annual increase in the number of parking charges dished out by private companies.
There was a record 11.1million of them in the year to the end of March, equating to an average of more than 30,400 every day and up from 8.6million during the previous year.
That’s a growing menace, not one – as promised by the now PM – on the cusp of being sorted. Each charge can be up to £100.
Drivers often panic and pay – as shown in the case above – thanks to a ‘discount’ typically offered if paid within 14 days. My advice is to always take it to independent appeals process POPLA – and never admit who the driver is.
Put your case together as well as you can, and if it is rejected, persevere.
Parking company tactics can often be to turn down your first appeal, however reasonable or right you are.
According to the Government, it has recently concluded a call for evidence on the code of practice and is ‘carefully considering the replies and next steps will be set out in due course.’
It says it remains committed to work with the industry and consumer groups to reissue the code as quickly as possible.
But it has taken far, FAR too long in my opinion to implement. Meanwhile, nearly 1million of these charges are being sent out every month. An incredible statistic.
We’re not asking for parking to simply be a free-for-all – but steps are needed to help crack down on the scattergun approach of parking charges being sent out to law-abiding motorists, who are unwittingly falling foul of parking rules that must simply be too complicated to digest.
It’s fair to charge for parking, it’s fair to lay out terms and conditions, but where is the common sense approach?
We’ll be keeping a beady eye out for what happens next with the code – and won’t rest until meaningful changes are implemented.
Content source – www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com