'Dodgy' parking firms face Government crackdown amid new code of practice


"Dodgy" parking operators will be blocked from fining drivers and effectively forced out of the industry unless they follow a "stringent" new code of practice, the Communities Secretary announced.

Sajid Javid confirmed the Government would support Tory former minister Sir Greg Knight's Parking (Code of Practice) Bill, which is due for its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday, effectively guaranteeing its passage into law.

The legislation will provide "fair, clear and consistent" regulation of the parking industry and allow a clampdown on "unscrupulous" and "aggressive" private parking operators, Mr Javid said.

Parking firms are issuing nearly 13 times more tickets than a decade ago and nearly 10,000 people approached the Citizens Advice Bureau for guidance on parking tickets last year.

Drivers are increasingly complaining of inconsistent practices, substandard signage, confusing appeals processes and intimidating payment letters, the Department for Communities and Local Government said.

Mr Javid said Sir Greg's Bill will deliver on a Tory manifesto commitment to tackle rogue parking operators.

The Communities Secretary will develop the code of practice with motoring groups and other experts.

Parking firms falling foul of the rules will be blocked from accessing driver data and issuing fines, effectively forcing them out of the industry.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid arriving at 10 Downing Street, London. (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid criticised "rogue" parking operators. (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Javid said: "For too long, drivers have suffered from unjust fines at the hands of dodgy parking firms.

"We need a fairer, clearer and more consistent system that brings the small minority of unscrupulous operators in line with those who are behaving appropriately.

"That is why Government is putting the brakes on these rogue operators and backing new laws that will put a stop to aggressive behaviour and provide a simpler way for drivers to appeal fines."

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "Motorists will be delighted that the Government is throwing its weight behind Sir Greg Knight's move to bring some much-needed regulatory rigour to the world of private parking.

"We all hoped the ban on clamping would end the sharp practices that had come to plague private parking, but the fact that companies are issuing millions of penalty tickets annually is clear evidence that something is still going badly awry.

"Drivers don't want a parking free-for-all, but they do want a system that is fair to all parties and that's what a code of practice set by Government - rather than the industry itself - should bring about."

Andrew Pester, chief executive of the British Parking Association, said: "We welcome Sir Greg's Bill that aims to drive consistency and fairness in the private parking sector. Our membership already complies with a robust code of practice which we continuously seek to improve through consultation.

"A single, mandatory code of practice across the whole sector is important to ensure that unscrupulous providers don't undermine the parking sector with bad practice. As the leading authority in the sector we shall continue to work closely with Government and key stakeholders to press for progress towards a positive outcome for all."