SEEING the dreaded yellow slip with a parking ticket on your windscreen when you return to your car is enough to ruin anyone’s day.
But fear not as there are two types of parking tickets: those issued by the council or the police, and others issued by private companies – and some can be challenged.
What’s the difference between a penalty charge notice and private parking ticket?
Tickets from private firms and official bodies look very similar – but one of them is much easier to fight than the other.
The ticket on the left, above, is an official one, issued by the council or the police, it will be called Penalty Charge Notice, Excess Charge Notice or Fixed Penalty Notice.
It will include the name of the issuing authority and will have been issued on public land, such as a high street or council car park.
The ticket on the right is a parking fine from a private company – often referred to as a parking charge notice. It is an invoice and they have no official right to fine you.
All they are doing is sending you a notice for what they deem to be a breach of contract.
Tickets from councils usually should be paid (unless you have a good reason not to), tickets from private firms can be fought.
That being said, it’s worth knowing the risks as a NHS nurse recently said she’s facing bankruptcy after a private parking firm demanded £7,000 – she had ignored the fine for four years because she believed they were unenforceable.
Can I challenge an unfair parking ticket?
No matter who has issued the parking ticket it is possible to fight it if you think you’ve been unfairly charged.
Although, it’s important to keep in mind that the fine may increase if your appeal is unsuccessful.
If a Penalty Charge Notice was issued by the local council, unless you have grounds to appeal, you should pay up. You’ll normally get a half-price discount if you pay within 14 days.
A Penalty Charge Notice means you’ve broken the law. But if you do have a compelling, or very persuasive reason for appealing, the council can use its discretion to decide whether to cancel the notice.
Reasons for appealing a parking ticket
A TICKET may be deemed unfair by the council or an independent adjudicator, if:
- Signs were wrong. If the signs weren’t visible or gave the wrong information.
- The traffic warden got it wrong. E.g, if they gave you a ticket when they shouldn’t have.
- An error on the letter or ticket. If they’ve left out any information on the ‘Notice to Owner’ letter, then you could get it waived.
- You didn’t own the vehicle at the time. You’ll have to prove this, such as information you provided to the DVLA.
- Your car was stolen. If a thief parked the car illegally then you can get it waived
To complain, you will have to complain to the council in writing, with any witness statements or photographs included.
If the council accepts your reasons for appealing, your fine will be cancelled and you’ll have nothing to pay.
If the council rejects your reasons, you will be sent a notice of rejection. You will then have 28 days to make a formal appeal or the charge could increase by another 50 per cent.
If you get a ticket from a private firm, find out what company has issued the ticket.
There are some big private firms, such as Britannia Parking Group, Euro Car Parks, Indigo Park Solutions, NCP and ParkingEye, which operate car parks for supermarkets and big retail parks around the UK.
Gather evidence if you plan to appeal, for example, take photographs to show unclear signs or anything else that might be relevant.
Keep all your correspondence with the company and hold off paying the fine if you want to challenge it.
Check to see if the company is a member of a trade body such as the British Parking Association (BPA) or International Parking Community (IPC).
Most of the big, private car park operators are part of this adjudication scheme. Popla (Parking on Private Land Appeals) was set up by the BPA for its members.
If Popla agrees with the driver the charge is cancelled. If the driver’s appeal is refused, the company can carry on seeking payment and ultimately has the option of taking the vehicle owner to the small claims court.