AA: Parking penalties too tough

Drivers are still being disproportionately punished for parking offences, despite the removal of wheel clampers from private car parks last year.

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AA: 'Very easy to break rules' in private car parks

An unregulated private parking enforcement industry and private land makes it "very easy to break the rules" because "drivers don't notice the signs", the AA's Head of Public Affairs told Daybreak.

Paul Watters suggested drivers were not at fault as some had been caught out because they "slept longer than they were allowed to" before getting back on the road.

Private parking companies may send threatening letters, but only the courts could force a driver to pay up, Mr Watters added.

"Really it is a court that can make you pay. That is all that can happen," Mr Watters explained.

AA: Rise in penalties caused by wheel clamp ban

With clamps no longer an option now in England and Wales it was inevitable that the number of parking charge notices (private parking tickets) would increase, the AA has said.

However, the car insurance firm criticised the "unregulated" private parking enforcement industry, which they blamed for the frequent use of penalties.

We are pleased that after decades of clamper extortion their practices have largely been consigned to history.

However, 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. It seems many of the notorious clampers have moved their sharp practices to private parking enforcement.

– AA president Edmund King

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Diabetic fined after oversleeping 'slightly' while parked

According to the AA parking penalties are becoming a problem and these two cases highlight why:

  • A diabetic who slept slightly beyond the two-hour limit at a deserted motorway service area in the early hours after having concerns about his blood sugar level.
  • Despite obtaining a doctor's certificate, his appeal was rejected by the parking firm, which also said he could pay the £60 by monthly instalments although he said this would cause hardship.
  • Another AA member in London was threatened with a £160 parking ticket which breached the £100 maximum recommended by the British Parking Association's code, to which the enforcement firm was signed up.

Drivers punished by high penalty parking charges

Penalties given out in private car parks are too expensive, say AA. Credit: PA

Banning wheel clampers has not made parking an less dear on drivers as they are now subject to automated "penalty" tickets when they break the rules in a car park, the AA has said.

Last year wheel clamping was banned from operating in private car parks but 12 months on parking enforcement firms are still issuing tickets.

The AA said private parking operators now rely heavily on CCTV and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to watch drivers and issue tickets through the post when they put a foot wrong in parking areas.

Complaints against private firms posting penalties which arrived a few days after the alleged offence were coming thick and fast, the car insurer said.

Edinburgh and the south coast of England were the worst offenders.

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