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It has already been estimated that a huge 2.3 million private parking tickets will be issued this year which is an increase of 500,000 on 2012.
The ban on clamping on private land was introduced last year to prevent motorists from being penalised and paying large release fees (which at times ran into hundreds of pounds) in order to get their cars back. However, in return for this ban, private land owners were then given the power to impose parking fines on motorists who either left their cars on their property or overstayed time in a car park.
Private enforcement companies were then given the right to obtain penalised motorists’ information from the DVLA in Swansea and contact them accordingly.
Since the new law came into force, the AA has reported that not only has the amount of tickets issued to the public increased but some of the behaviour of the private companies has also come under scrutiny.
Edmund King, the AA’s president said: “Private parking enforcement remains unregulated and is a free-for-all when even firms signed up to a code of practice breach their own rules.
“It seems many of the notorious clampers have moved their sharp practices to private parking enforcement.
“Others seem to have adopted strong arm tactics to threaten drivers into paying tickets that are often unjust and set at an unreasonable level compared to those issued by regulated local authorities.”
The AA went on to report that one motorist was fined £160 which was in fact 60 per cent higher than the maximum penalty the BPA recommended. In another case a diabetic motorist who was concerned about his blood sugar levels was hit with a fine for spending more than two hours in a motorway service area. An appeal to the parking firm to reconsider the penalty was rejected.
Protection was supposed to be provided to motorists by an independent parking adjudication service, known as POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals). However, earlier this year the Telegraph revealed POPLA had been holding meetings with law enforcement companies, and at this point its independence began to be questioned.
Patrick Troy, chief executive of the British Parking Association defended the industry. “It is disappointing that the AA has taken a typically negative attitude to the significant changes brought about by changes in the law introduced last year,” he said.
The BPA established an independent appeals service to ensure that motorists who receive unfair tickets from our members can seek independent redress, something not available before 1 October last year.
“We’ve invited the AA to join us in managing the scheme which ensures BPA members comply with a robust Code of Practice but they have consistently declined, unlike many other organisations representing the motorists’ interests. We and they are interested only in placing the motorist at the heart of our thinking, not scoring cheap political points.”