Calls for action on ‘cowboy’ operators after figures reveal more than £500MILLION worth of fines were given out by private parking firms in just six months
Parking firms issued a record half a billion pounds’ worth of fines in the last half of 2022 alone – a jump of almost 25 per cent.
Some 5,644,020 fines were handed out from July to December last year, data shows, up from 4,554,378 over the same period the year before – an increase of 1.1million.
Motorists were hit with 8,320,399 tickets in the first nine months of 2022-23 – not far off the 8,564,764 for all of 2021-22.
With fines capped at £100, it means parking firms are on track to issue demands for more than £1billion in fines by the end of this year. The figures are for car parks run by private firms not councils.
It comes after the Government withdrew key parts of a long-awaited code of practice aimed at protecting drivers from ‘cowboy’ operators.
Ministers caved in after parking firms launched a judicial review of the proposals, which included slashing the maximum fines from £100 to £50.
Along with plans to ban debt collectors from hounding motorists who do not pay within a time limit, this looks unlikely to go ahead.
And there are fears that the bits of the Code that could survive – such as giving drivers a compulsory ten-minute grace period before firms can issue a fine and making signage clearer and less confusing – may not come into force until next year.
The idea is also to overhaul the appeals process by making it independent and giving drivers who challenge tickets a fairer hearing.
It was due to be in force by the end of this year. But it could be held up because of the judicial review, according to Whitehall sources.
Motorists were hit with 8,320,399 tickets in the first nine months of 2022-23
The country’s biggest parking firm, ParkingEye, was the most active, buying 1,608,997 records between July and December from the DVLA in order to issue fines.
This was followed by Euro Car Parks Limited (1,011,740) and APCOA Parking (UK) Ltd (606,371).
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘If only the rest of the economy was booming like the private parking sector perhaps we’d all be feeling more prosperous.
‘Private parking looks set to potentially be a £1billion pound-a-year business, if it isn’t already, with demands for up to £100 a time being sent out to drivers at the rate of more than one every three seconds.
‘There’s widespread agreement that the government should be setting up a regulatory framework for the industry, but it is nearly four years since the relevant law was passed. These numbers surely suggest that what’s needed is action this day.’
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, added: ‘Drivers are being aggressively targeted by parking firms as they look to feather their nests before new, long overdue rules are applied to them.
‘Ministers need to act quickly to protect drivers from this outrageous behaviour.’
A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesman said: ‘We are determined to create a new Private Parking Code of Practice which will bring in a fairer system with motorists’ interests at its heart.
‘We’re working with industry and consumer groups to introduce the Code as quickly as possible.’