Private parking lots get 10-minute ‘grace period’

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By Creative Media News

  • UK private car parks: 10-minute grace
  • New code aims for fairer appeals
  • Critics call for government regulation

Private parking parks will give UK motorists a 10-minute “grace period” before issuing fines.

The measure was unveiled as part of a new code of behaviour that corporations have agreed to apply in the autumn.

According to industry trade associations, the regulation would include a more equitable appeals procedure and keep the current charge maximum in place.

Motoring organizations claim that the code “falls far short” of the criteria needed to protect “innocent” drivers from “sharks running private car parks” and that government legislation is required.

The code was published by the British Parking Association and the International Parking Community, two trade associations representing private car park companies.

It calls for a single set of rules for operators on private property, more consistent signage, and an “appeals charter” for drivers.

Implementing a grace period implies that every vehicle in a private car park will have 10 minutes after parking time has elapsed before being fined.

The code maintains a charge cap of £100, which is reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.

While industry associations want to have the new code in place by October, private parking companies will be given a “period of transition”.

They will only be expected to “fully” satisfy the new criteria by December.
‘Self-authored code.’

Private corporations administer private car parks, commonly located near supermarkets or out-of-town shopping malls.

They differ from public car parks operated by municipal governments in town centres or near parks and open areas.

When vehicles break their rules, private car parking firms tax them, and their fines differ from those in public car parks.

However, drivers, legislators, and motorist organizations have long chastised private parking companies for misleading signage, excessive fees, and aggressive debt-collecting practices.

According to the RAC Foundation, private parking companies issued 9.7 million penalties to vehicles in Britain between April and December of last year, based on government data.

An attempted government crackdown on “rogue” operators failed in 2022 due to solid pushback from private parking corporations.

In March 2019, a measure allowing for implementing a legislatively mandated code of conduct gained Royal Assent.

This legislation, which was supposed to go into effect in Britain by the end of last year, included lowering the penalty cap for most parking violations to £50, creating a fairer appeals procedure, and prohibiting the use of inflammatory language on fines.

However, a legal challenge by private parking firms forced the government to withdraw the legislation in June 2022.

Mr Cousens claimed that the code of practice was “watered down” and fell far short of the standards the AA, government, and consumer groups had long advocated for.

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He stated: “This self-authored code does not recognize the necessity to cap costs and eliminate debt recovery fees.

These features are critically needed in a government-backed code to safeguard innocent drivers from sharks operating private parking lots.

According to Simon Williams, head of policy at RAC, drivers should be allowed to believe that this so-called code established by the private parking business is the same as the long-delayed official private parking code of practice, backed by legislation.

This, and only this, can end the worst practices of some private parking operators, protecting drivers – particularly those who are vulnerable – from excessive fines and debt collectors hunting down payments.

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