Drivers handed nearly 36,000 parking tickets a day by private firms

A car with a number of fixed penalty notices stuck on its windscreen.
Each parking ticket can cost motorists up to £100. Credit: PA

Drivers are being hit with an average of nearly 36,000 parking tickets a day by private companies in Britain, new figures show.

More than 3.3 million tickets were handed out between July and September, according to analysis of government data by the PA news agency and motoring research charity the RAC Foundation.

The figure is up 16% from 2.9 million during the same period last year and represents a record daily average of 35,960.

Each ticket can be up to £100, meaning the total cost to drivers may be near £3.6 million per day at the current rate.

Private parking businesses have been accused of using misleading and confusing signs, aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees.

A long-awaited code of practice aimed at eradicating some of the sector's worst behaviour was due to be introduced after legislation was passed in Parliament in March 2019.

The code - originally laid before Parliament in February 2022 and due to come into force across Britain by the end of 2023 - stated the cap on tickets for some parking offences should be halved to £50.

In June 2022, it was withdrawn by the government following a legal challenge by parking companies.

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RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “We will all be hoping for good things in 2024 but perhaps those most looking forward to a happy new year are the large band of parking companies operating on private land.

“In March it will be five years since a law was enacted to introduce a government-backed parking code of practice and an independent appeals service to better regulate the private parking sector, yet even now we don’t know when these will be introduced.

“This glacial pace has been a source of immense frustration to the millions of drivers heavily penalised for supposed infringements in private car parks and to all the MPs who, at the time the legislation was being debated, were queueing up to recount to Parliament the parking horror stories reported by their constituents.”

A new call for evidence on the code of practice run by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) closed on October 8.

The analysis found that more than 3.3 million tickets were handed out between July and September. Credit: PA

A spokesman for the British Parking Association, which represents car park operators, said: “Motorists overwhelmingly benefit from well-managed and maintained car parks, ensuring easier journeys and better parking experiences.

“Enforcement is a key element of effective parking management, meaning that careless and selfish drivers don’t block spaces, park in blue badge zones or cause a nuisance to motorists that park with due care and attention.”

The analysis of parking tickets was based on the number of records obtained from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) by companies chasing vehicle owners for alleged infringements in private car parks, such as at shopping centres, leisure facilities and motorway service areas.

Council-run car parks were not included within the analysis, while some 178 parking management businesses requested vehicle owner records in the three months to the end of September.

ParkingEye was the most active, buying 573,000 records.

The DVLA charges private companies £2.50 per record, saying its fees are set to recover the cost of providing the information and it does not make any money from the process.