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Motorists hit with 30k parking fines EVERY day after ministers delay crackdown on 'cowboy' firms

Shocking figures reveal ruthless private companies issued 2.7million tickets to drivers between April and June ¿ that's one every three seconds (file photo)

Motorists are being hit with a record 30,000 parking tickets a day – despite ministers’ promise to crack down on ‘cowboy’ operators.

Shocking figures reveal that ruthless private companies issued 2.7million tickets to drivers between April and June – that’s one every three seconds.

It means parking companies are on track to impose fines of up to £1billion this year. And the figures only apply to car parks managed by private companies, not by municipalities.

Last night ministers faced fresh calls to get tough on ‘pirate’ companies causing misery for millions of motorists amid a cost of living crisis and sky-high fuel prices.

It comes after the government withdrew key parts of a long-awaited code of practice aimed at protecting drivers from ‘cowboy’ operators. Ministers relented after parking companies launched a judicial review of the proposals, which included reducing maximum fines from £100 to £50.

Along with plans to ban debt collectors from harassing motorists who don’t pay within a set time frame, that seems unlikely to materialize. The number of tickets issued has soared 50% in one year, from 1.8 million in the same three-month period in 2021.

Shocking figures reveal ruthless private companies issued 2.7million tickets to drivers between April and June ¿ that's one every three seconds (file photo)

Shocking figures reveal ruthless private companies issued 2.7 million tickets to drivers between April and June – that’s one every three seconds (file photo)

How private parking companies are issuing more fines from 2017 to 2022

How private parking companies are issuing more fines from 2017 to 2022

If this year’s increase continues unabated, it will reach a record close to 11 million tickets issued in 2022-23, 2.5 million more than the current high of 8.4 million in 2019/20 .

With fines capped at £100, private companies are set to impose fines of up to almost £1.1billion.

Analysis by the RAC Foundation also revealed that the number of parking companies has increased by a sixth over the past year, from 151 to 176.

Motorists have been waiting years for the code of conduct, details of which were announced in February, amid complaints of poor practices such as deliberately poor signage.

A mandatory ten-minute grace period before companies can fine drivers whose tickets have expired will be in place by the end of next year. There will be a simpler and fairer independent appeals process to give more drivers the benefit of the doubt in cases involving honest mistakes, such as entering the wrong license plate at a ticket machine. A “recourse charter” will be established to better specify the rights of motorists.

Whitehall sources confirmed officials had “conceded” to arguments from parking companies about capping fines and banning debt collectors. The companies said the legal case for the measures was not strong enough.

The government is now consulting more widely on the measures in the hope that the legal case can be strengthened and they can move forward.

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But that means parking companies are set to make a windfall profit from fines imposed on motorists for a while.

Whitehall sources confirmed that officials had

Whitehall sources confirmed officials had ‘conceded’ to arguments from parking companies about capping fines and banning debt collectors (File photo of Dennis Payter, 74, who refused to pay a fined after getting a parking ticket even though he paid and posted – but accidentally entered the wrong license plate number last year)

Jack Cousens, head of traffic policy for the AA, said: ‘Private parking companies are acting like pirates, looting innocent drivers of their well-deserved cash as they seek to collect as much treasure as possible before the code of practice is fully introduced. However, the delay in passing the code has gotten to the point where it hurts motorists at a time when they really need help.

RAC Foundation chief Steve Gooding said the figures revealed just how “booming” the private parking industry in the “Wild West” was. He added: ‘Three and a half years after being brought into law, the government is still failing to use the powers granted by the Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019 to transform the world of private parking and make it a place much more just.

“These latest data are a sign of a system that is broken. We hope that the new ministerial team in charge of this aspect of public policy will tackle it with renewed vigor.

The country’s largest parking company, ParkingEye, was the most active, buying 521,000 discs between April and June from the DVLA in order to issue fines.

RAC road policy officer Nicholas Lyes said: ‘These figures clearly demonstrate why a new code of practice is so desperately needed, alongside a single independent appeal system.

Alan Dyer, 71, from Dunstable, Bedfordshire, was ticketed by APCOA Parking after parking at Leagrave station while taking his granddaughter to hospital in London.

He was fined despite displaying a blue badge and a permit allowing him to park there. APCOA Parking claimed its records showed its parking permit was not active until after the fine was issued. But Mr. Dyer was able to prove it wrong and the ticket was cancelled. He said: “We threatened legal action and they finally let it go. They made no apologies, nothing at all.

A government spokesperson said: ‘We recognize that there have been unacceptable practices by a small number of cowboy companies. We will introduce our Private Parking Code of Practice as soon as possible to help address this issue.

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