An estimated 2.3 million penalty charge notices will be issued in 2013, it has been claimed – 500,000 more than were issued in 2012. The AA believes the hefty increase in PCNs will be down to firms trying to make up revenue lost in the wake of a ban on private property wheel clamping that came into force a year ago.
It’s feared many of the notorious clampers will now rely on parking fines to make up for the shortfall in revenue because they are unable to charge motorists hundreds of pounds in wheel clamp release fees.
Concerns over the ‘unreasonable’ practices have been raised. “Private parking enforcement remains unregulated and is a free-for-all when even firms signed up to a code of practice breach their own rules,” AA president Edmund King said. “It seems many of the notorious clampers have moved their sharp practices to private parking enforcement.”
“Others seem to have adopted strong arm tactics to threaten drivers into paying tickets that are often unjust and set at an unreasonable level compared to those issued by regulated local authorities,” he added.
Banning the yellow metal panels of dread was meant to help motorists, but it seemingly came at a price. Private enforcement companies were given the right to impose parking fines on anyone who parks on private land without permission for longer than permitted, with driver details obtainable from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.
Research by the AA found an instance of a motorist being fined a whopping £160, a 60 per cent increase on the recommended maximum set by the British Parking Association.
Another case involved a diabetic driver who was fined for spending more than two hours parked at a motorway service station, even though he was concerned about his blood sugar levels. His appeal to have the fine dropped was rejected.
The Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) adjudication service was set up to help motorists fight if they felt a fine was unfairly given. Its independence has been called into question amid claims from the Telegraph that it held workshops with private enforcement companies.
Figures from POPLA say it has ruled on 6,913 motorist cases. 3,361 ended up in the favour of private companies, while the remaining 2,856 went the way of the driver.
“It is disappointing that the AA has taken a typically negative attitude to the significant changes brought about by changes in the law introduced last year,” chief executive of the British Parking Association commented.
“We and they are interested only in placing the motorist at the heart of our thinking, not scoring cheap political points,” he added.