Drivers are handed a private parking ticket at a rate of one every six seconds. But who is to blame? Is it careless drivers, over zealous parking attendants, or unclear signage?
James Salmon, The Mail Online, reports:
The number has soared by one million in a year as parking firms become more aggressive in their pursuit of motorists.
These companies bought a record 5.65million sets of vehicle-keeper records from the DVLA in the year to April – a rise of 20 per cent – to enable them to hound drivers for fines of up to £100.
It means that parking firms are dishing out 15,486 penalty notices a day, or one every six seconds.
Over the last year, the DVLA generated £14.1million by selling motorists’ information for £2.50 a vehicle.
The figures fuel concerns among campaigners and MPs that drivers’ information is widely misused, with motorists unfairly targeted while visiting hospitals and high streets.
Drivers have complained of being fined up to £100 for returning to their cars a few minutes late, or after being unable to buy a ticket because of a faulty machine.
The RAC Foundation described the rise in tickets as ‘astonishing’ and questioned whether drivers flouted rules on such an ‘industrial scale’.
Ministers have already committed to backing a Private Member’s Bill that would lead to a code of conduct for private car park operators.
The proposed legislation aims to drive rogue parking operators out of business by barring them from buying DVLA records.
In February, a Bill called Parking (Code of Practice) had its second reading in the Commons.
Former Tory minister Sir Greg Knight, who introduced the Bill, told the Mail: ‘These figures are further evidence that my bill is necessary to ensure that most are treated fairly when they park and are not treated as cash cows by cowboy car parking operators.
'A new code of practice will ensure fairness for both the car park operator and the motorist.
'At the moment the scales of justice are tilted in favour of car park operators, many of whom are using sharp practices with impunity.’
The number of vehicle details requested has soared since legislation was introduced in 2012.
The Protection of Freedoms Act meant parking firms had to establish only who the registered keeper of the vehicle was, not who had been driving – triggering a surge in details purchased from the DVLA.
The most prolific of the private firms is ParkingEye, owned by outsourcing firm Capita, which was exposed by the Daily Mail for using ruthless tactics to collect licence fees for the BBC.
The firm runs thousands of car parks around the country. Latest figures showed it obtained 1.77million records, far more than any other company, up from 1.53million the year before.
In second place was Euro Car Parks with 406,323 records, up from 306,857 the previous year.
All private parking firms wanting to access vehicle keeper data from the DVLA need to be members of either the British Parking Association or the International Parking Community.
RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said he ‘strongly supports’ new legislation to clamp down on parking firms.
He said: ‘Each year we are not only astonished by the numbers involved, but also by the fact that those numbers keep rocketing up... What’s going wrong?
'Are Britain’s motorists really flouting the rules on such an industrial scale?’
The British Parking Association did not respond to requests for comment.
Parking fines aim to deter drivers from parking unsafely. However, should it really be the fault of the driver if the parking meter isn’t working?