10-minute grace period before fines being considered for private car parks
Private car park operators would be forced to give drivers up to a 10-minute grace period after their tickets expire before fining them under a Government proposal.
Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick also wants further regulation to crack down on aggressive debt collection carried out by rogue car parks in England, Scotland and Wales.
He announced on Sunday that he has instructed the British Standards Institution to draw up a compulsory code of practice for the industry.
Mr Jenrick said: “For too long rogue parking firms have operated in an unregulated industry, handing out unjust fines, putting drivers through baffling appeals processes and issuing tickets to motorists who were only seconds late back to their cars.
“That’s why we’ve appointed the British Standards Institution to work with consumer groups and industry to write the first ever compulsory code of practice for private parking firms.
“The new code will restore common sense to the way parking fines are handed out, encourage people back onto our high-streets and crack-down on dodgy operators who use aggressive tactics to harass drivers.”
If the move is approved by the standards institution, it would bring private facilities into line with council car parks, which have had a 10-minute grace period in England since 2015.
Currently any grace period for private car parks is under a voluntary code set by the industry.
But the suggested compulsory guidelines would see firms who fall foul of the law stripped of the ability to request DVLA data, putting up a barrier for them to pursue motorists for charges.
It was widely reported that the Parking (Code of Practice) Act introduced this year was to include a 10-minute grace period.
But that proposed element did not make it into law, officials at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government confirmed.
AA president Edmund King said: “We welcome the 10-minute grace period for drivers parking on private land.
“All too often drivers are caught out on camera or automatic number plate recognition for stopping to check a map or satnav without actually parking. We know that many of the banned cowboy clampers have turned into private parking outlaws so it is high time that they are being better regulated.”
Meanwhile, the Government was confirming that from April that Universal Credit payments will rise by 1.7% in line with inflation and state pensions would increase by 3.9%.
Adam Corlett, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation think-tank, said the announcement represented a “missed opportunity” that would not increase living standards.
“The benefit freeze was always due to end next year. The Government’s confirmation that working-age benefits will only keep pace with rising prices means there will be no increase in living standards, and those in need of extra support will continue to be left behind,” he said.
“With child poverty at risk of hitting record highs, this is a missed opportunity to provide a much-needed boost for low to middle income families.”