1. ITV Report

Tonight: True Cost of Parking

True Cost of Parking - ITV at 7:30pm on Thursday 10th August Photo: ITV/Tonight

Motoring organisations are concerned about parking tickets being handed out by private parking companies, according to a Tonight investigation.

Millions of parking tickets are being handed out to motorists each year by private parking firms, the programme hears.

It’s spawned a lucrative industry worth an estimated £1.5billion.

But President of the AA Edmund King tells Tonight:

“We get lots of complaints from pensioners, from disabled people, from nurses, and often they’ve really done nothing wrong.

The ticket may have dropped off the dashboard. They may have parked touching a white line, and yet they still get penalised.”

– Edmund King, President of the AA
Edmund King, President of the AA Credit: ITV/Tonight

And the RAC Foundation is questioning the quantity of drivers' details being legally handed over by the DVLA to private parking firms.

Director Steve Gooding says:

“We’ve had a number of concerns about the private parking sector for some time now, fuelled in large part by the very large number of vehicle keeper records that are being sought.

We think that this year that number is gonna hit a record level, approaching five million instances."

– Steve Gooding, Director of RAC Foundation

There are now a record 30 million cars on Britain’s roads.

The services of the private parking industry have spread far and wide - shopping centres, supermarkets, railway stations and NHS hospitals.

That’s meant healthy profits for private parking management companies.

And if motorists don’t pay the ticket, the parking company can often go to the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency to access the car owner’s name and address before chasing them up.

Bob Close got a ticket while on holiday celebrating his dad’s 60th birthday. He’d parked touching a white line.

He was chased for a year by the parking company and two debt collection agencies.

He was eventually sent court papers. The penalty had gone up to £170. But Bob still refused to back down and the case was withdrawn before it got to court.

Bob Close received a parking ticket for this whilst on holiday Credit: ITV/Eat, Shop, Save

“As far as I’m concerned these kind of parking companies are there to threaten people and to try and squeeze money out of them by using scare tactics,” he tells reporter Fiona Foster.

But Will Hurley, speaking for one of the associations representing private parking companies, disagrees.

“Unfortunately the industry has faced motorists for years throwing these tickets in the bin and then continuing to abuse parking. So operators have been forced to essentially show that these are legitimate tickets.

There is a deterrent effect - and the reality is businesses and landowners will want to make sure that motorists who do continually breach terms and conditions are deterred from doing it again in the future.”

– Will Hurley, International Parking Community

James Walker who runs consumer website Resolver, stresses that if motorists ignore parking tickets they could end up in court.

"There’s very little effort that private parking firms need to make to send out legal letters and to send out court proceedings against you. So the situation is in their favour,”

– James Walker, Resolver

He says a wronged motorist should gather as much evidence as possible.

Gather as much evidence as possible by taking pictures of your ticket Credit: ITV/Eat, Shop, Save

“So do you have some photos that you could take? Gather the information, make sure that you put your feelings in writing to the organisation and make sure that you focus on whether it was fair and reasonable.”

See more at 7:30pm on ITV as Fiona Foster investigates True Cost of Parking.

Let us know your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #ITVTonight

Websites that may be of interest:


Reclaiming private parking tickets via Money Saving Expert

Consumer Action Group

Parking Prankster blog

British Parking

The International Parking Community