15 January 2020

Private parking firms accept minor vehicle registration number keying-in errors to ease fines burden

Parking fines are among the most contentious issues for fleet managers and company car and van drivers, but a revision to the British Parking Association’s Code of Practice may result in fewer penalties.

The number of penalty tickets issued to drivers parking on private land - the scourge of both fleet operators and company car and van drivers - leapt by more than one million to 6.8 million in 2018/19, according to data compiled by the RAC Foundation.

Now the British Parking Association, one of two Accredited Trade Association representing the UK parking and traffic management profession with more than 750 members, provides leeway to drivers when keying-in their vehicle registration number at car park ticketing machines.

The revised Code of Practice for parking on private land also sees new clauses included covering further guidance on grace periods - last year the Government announced that a 10-minute grace period for drivers was required after their tickets had expired - and self-ticketing to ensure British Parking Association parking operator members are delivering “a consistently high standard of service for motorists”.

A ‘minor keying-in-error’ is categorised as one letter or number incorrect or letters and numbers in the wrong order. A ‘major keying in error’ is one that has multiple number and letter keying errors, the first three digits only have been recorded or a completely incorrect registration number is used.

Drivers will still receive a fine notice and will need to appeal but, said Steve Clark, the British Parking Association’s head of business operations: “We expect our members to deal with them appropriately at the first appeal stage.”

He continued: “We recognise that genuine mistakes can occur, which may result in a parking charge being issued even when a motorist can demonstrate they paid for their parking. In recognition of this we have further clarified the situation for all parties.”

The revisions to the Code of Practice follow last year’s implementation of the Parking (Code of Practice) Act. It lays the framework for the establishment of: A single, Government-sanctioned, industry-wide Code of Practice; a single independent appeals service; and an independent ombudsman to oversee private parking and end what has been termed a ‘wild west’ industry.

John Gallagher, lead adjudicator at POPLA, the independent appeals service for Parking Charge Notices issued on private land, welcomed the British Parking Association’s revised Code and said: “[It] will bring greater clarity for motorists and parking operators alike on issues such as simple keying errors and grace periods. The introduction of a section on keying errors, requiring parking operators to cancel Parking Charge Notices in certain circumstances and reduce the amount to only administration costs in others, is particularly welcome.

“This addition to the Code means that, for the first time, POPLA will be able to make decisions on keying-in-errors without referral back to the operator.”