Think Big Brother is watching you — and your automotive? You’re dead right.
Especially once you’re receiving certainly one of the estimated 8 million parking tickets issued every year to Britain’s motorists.
Should you desire to see the complete extent of the digital onslaught, head next week to Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre — the NEC — and visit the annual Parkex exhibition (June 14 to 16, parkex.net). It’s an actual eye-opener.
Recent rules: The Government is preparing to launch a recent Private Parking Code of Practice – set to return into force by the top of 2023
Parkex is the booming parking industry’s annual jamboree showcasing the newest high-tech equipment to sell to personal parking firms — and councils.
Many councils themselves contract private firms to do their parking control and enforcement for them.
It’s organised by the British Parking Association (britishparking.co.uk) and runs in tandem with the Traffex exhibition (traffex.com) taking a look at wider road transport management issues.
But serious concerns are being voiced by motoring organisations, consumer groups, MPs and ministers, that Britain’s 35 million motorists are being fleeced by a Wild West of ‘cowboy firms’.
Rules and regulation
Legally, if an area authority issues a parking ticket it is named a Penalty Charge Notice or ‘PCN’ and is a positive.
But tickets for parking on private land are different.
They are sometimes called Parking Charge Notices and made to appear to be official PCNs, even using the identical initials.
As consumer champion Scott Dixon explains: ‘A non-public parking company cannot positive you. They will only issue invoices — often disguised as a positive — for an alleged breach of contract for parking on private land.’
Last week, the Day by day Mail revealed how attempts by the Government to crack down on excessive parking fines are being torpedoed by lawyers acting for greedy parking firms.
The Government is preparing to launch a recent Private Parking Code of Practice — set to return into force by the top of 2023.
But several major parking firms launched cases against the brand new code and blocked two key policy measures. The primary of those policies was to slash — from £100 to £50 — the utmost amount for a Penalty Charge Notice.
Parking firms want to boost the cap to £120. They argued that a discount to £50 would lead more drivers to flout rules because a ticket, if paid on the half-price rate inside 14 days, would in lots of cases be cheaper than paying for parking.
Secondly, a plan to ban debt-collectors from hounding drivers who feel they’ve been treated unfairly and don’t pay inside a cut-off date has also been scuppered.
Nonetheless, other measures survive, including:
- A compulsory ten-minute grace period after tickets expire.
- A less complicated and fairer independent appeals system to present more drivers the advantage of the doubt in cases of honest mistakes or mitigating circumstances.
- Rogue operators who fail to follow the code could possibly be banned from accessing DVLA data, principally drivers’ home addresses.
Slap on the wrist
Six issues for motorists
Ministers estimate greater than 22,000 parking tickets are issued every day — about 8 million a 12 months. The British Parking Association’s 2020 census shows its members issued greater than 4 million PCNs.
Of those, 84.3 per cent were imposed via automatic number plate recognition (ANPR).
Greater than eight out of ten motorists issued with a PCN simply paid up early — to learn from the ‘discounted’ rate — slightly than risk paying double after a lost appeal.
But multiple in five brave souls did appeal to the parking operator — and of those, greater than half (51.7 per cent) were successful.
Campaigners also complain that pay-and-display money machines are being ripped out by councils and parking operators and replaced with cashless apps which discriminates against thousands and thousands of older or less tech-savvy motorists who unwittingly fall foul of the small print in inflexible systems.
And lack of phone signal won’t prevent from a parking positive.
Electric cars have also been targeted — following cases where motorists charging their cars in designated spaces have been hit with parking fines for failing to purchase a ticket when the ‘free’ period has expired.
The AA cited other parking issues:
- Hotspots — areas of confusion where firms know drivers will probably be caught out.
- Poor signage — particularly at night, plus complicated and cashless ticket machines cause confusion and difficulties.
- Pay by phone areas — where the technology fails, but drivers think they’ve paid.
- ‘Free parking’ — where you continue to must get a ticket and display it in your windscreen, catching numerous drivers out.
Cut and thrust
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which launched the consultation for the brand new Private Parking Code of Practice, said: ‘Private firms issue roughly 22,000 parking tickets daily, often adopting a system of misleading and confusing signage, aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees.’
Sir Greg Knight MP, who took the Parking (Code of Practice) Act through Parliament, said ‘unscrupulous rogues’ had undermined the parking sector with bad practice.
He said: ‘Motion is required because many dodgy operators are still engaging in unacceptable practices while using a threatening and intimidating process to fleece motorists.’
The British Parking Association, with greater than 750 members and its own Code of Conduct, defends the industry. Having arrange the claims system Parking On Private Land Appeals — or Popla — it highlights consumer research which ‘shows that the general public is more concerned with the parking behaviour of other motorists than of parking operators’.
It adds: ‘They need to see that the minority of motorists who don’t follow the principles and show no regard for others are handled effectively, while recognising instances where people make a real mistake are shown leniency.’
Meanwhile, seminars at Parkex include: ‘How parking and road user charging could be used as a lever’ (to administer congestion); ‘Effective ANPR manufacture for efficient data capture and evaluation within the traffic, parking and security sector’; and a review of ‘effective enforcement technology’.
There’s also one on ‘electric vehicle charging revenue (£) made easy’ taking a look at how parking firms may ‘increase their revenue from the growing market of EV drivers’.
Just the ticket to boost even additional cash from beleaguered motorists.
Sitcom classic goes under the hammer
As classic cars go, the red, soft-top 1970 Triumph Herald 13/60 driven by Dame Thora Hird within the long-running BBC comedy series Last Of The Summer Wine is a very rare vintage to savour.
And in case you fancy bidding for it, the much-loved convertible goes under the hammer with an estimate of £16,000-£18,000 on the H&H Classics auction on the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, Cambridgeshire, on June 22.
Star of the show: The 1970 Triumph Herald 13/60 from the long-running BBC comedy series Last Of The Summer Wine
Last Of The Summer Wine was filmed around Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, from 1973 to 2010 and stays the world’s longest-running sitcom.
Within the BBC show, the Triumph Herald belonged to Edie Pegden (played by Dame Thora).
The auctioneers note: ‘It’s fair to say that Edie was not a natural driver, taking three goes to pass her test and still fighting the controls thereafter; blaming [husband] Wesley for “moving things around” at any time when the long-suffering Herald got the higher of her.’
Edie and the automotive were written out of the series following the death of triple Best Actress Bafta winner Dame Thora, on the age of 91, in 2003.
But her screen automotive lives on.
Described as being fully restored and in mint condition, the Herald has ‘well-finished red paintwork with contrasting black interior’.
It retains the registration it wore during several series of the sitcom – CXE 604J – and now has 94,080 miles on the odometer.
The automotive comes with an identical die-cast model bearing the identical registration number, photographs of the vehicle taken throughout the series, and certification from each the owner of the Herald — who supplied it for the show — and in addition a retired head production buyer from the BBC.
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