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Private car parking penalty charges to be capped at £50

·3 min read
parking penalty charges to be capped at £50
Companies who breach the new code could be barred from collecting penalties from motorists in the future by having their access to DVLA data cut off. Photo: Getty

Motorists in the UK will be better protected against "aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees" as ministers announce a private parking penalty cap.

The maximum fine in private car parks will be reduced by 50% and capped at £50 ($67.65) — down from £100 — for most cases in England and Wales.

London is excluded under a new Parking Code of Practice introduced by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Higher caps of £70 or £100 will remain in place for more serious breaches, such as parking in Blue Badge bays, the government said.

Private car parks will also have to display prices more clearly and introduce a fairer system for appeals as well as give drivers a 10-minute grace period for lateness, under the new proposals.

Companies who breach the new code could be barred from collecting fines from motorists in the future by having their access to Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data cut off.

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Levelling Up minister, Neil O'Brien 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 government has also set out other rules for private parking firms to bring them more in line with councils, including:

  • Motorists will receive a 50% discount if they pay within 14 days, as they do with council-issued fixed penalty notices

  • Firms will need to introduce a 5-minute cooling-off period in which a driver can change their mind about parking

  • Plans to make it easier for motorists to challenge their ticket if genuine mitigating circumstances are present — this could include having a valid ticket but failing to display it or keying in your number plate incorrectly by mistake at a parking machine

The RAC "welcomed" the new code.

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"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 will introduce a lower cap on penalty charge notices, an independent appeals system and an end to rip-off debt collection fees," said RAC head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes.

"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."

Vehicle insurance and breakdown firm the AA said the move will provide "much needed upgrades" to private parking rules and "protect drivers".

Edmund King, AA president, said: "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."

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