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The STING in the tail of the new Parking Laws

Sun, 17 Feb 2008
From Barrie Segal - founder of™

The government has claimed that new parking regulations coming into force in England and Wales on 31st March 2008 are transparent and fairer for the motorist. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One example will suffice. Under current legislation, in order for a parking ticket to be valid it must be handed to the person believed to be the driver or put on the vehicle. If it is not, then it is not validly issued and is not enforceable. This was confirmed in the 2007 High Court case of R (on Application of Transport for London) v Parking Adjudicator (interested party Ademolake) (EWHC 1172 Admin)

Under current law, a ticket issued by a parking attendant can only be sent by post if the parking attendant was physically prevented from putting the ticket on the vehicle or giving it to the driver. (From the 31st of March, as a result of some bright spark’s inspiration, parking attendants will be known as Civil Enforcement Officers—this is the only part of new parking laws which is likely to give the motorist a laugh.)

There are very good reasons for this rule. If someone gets a parking ticket they know exactly what they were doing at the time, and if for example they were letting off a passenger or loading goods, they can gather the evidence necessary to prove that. There are a lot of cases where drivers drive away before the ticket can be put on their vehicle either because they are unaware of the presence of the parking attendant or because they see the parking attendant lurking. In this situation the parking attendant is prevented from issuing a valid parking ticket so it has led to a massive fraud where the parking attendant claims that the ticket was put on the vehicle or handed to the driver when neither was the case. As a result, the first the motorist knows of the parking ticket is when they get a document called a Notice to Owner in the post, claiming they haven’t paid the parking ticket.

When I uncovered this scam nearly five years ago, I christened it the Ghost Ticket, and the name stuck. It is now used by parking attendants, local authorities and the press. There have been many cases heard by Parking Adjudicators which have demonstrated that parking attendants have fabricated evidence to claim that the tickets were correctly served. The latest wheeze is when challenged to show a photograph of the ticket on the vehicle, the parking attendants either claim they were physically assaulted and prevented from issuing the ticket or that the motorist tore up the ticket.

In the new legislation the government has sneakily inserted a provision that where a parking attendant has started to write a ticket and the motorist drives away, they can send the ticket by post. The opportunities for fraud are astonishing and in my view ‘legalize’ the issue of Ghost Tickets. The Transport Minister has claimed this is to do with safety, as it will stop motorists driving away to avoid receiving a ticket!

What is worse is that when a ticket is issued in these circumstances and are sent in the post, motorists will lose their current right to make an informal appeal against the parking ticket. If they appeal to the council and the council turns them down, their next appeal is to the Parking Adjudicator.

There are at least two major problems with this: How will the motorist know exactly what they were doing at the time the parking ticket was allegedly written up and if the motorist never receives the parking ticket because it is lost in the post or mis-addressed (or actually never sent!) the first they will hear of the parking ticket is when they receive a document called a Charge Certificate, increasing the original fine by 50% and threatening that unless payment is made the debt will be registered at Northampton County Court.

The glaring problem with this is that once a Charge Certificate is issued, the motorist can no longer appeal against the parking ticket. They will either have to persuade the council to cancel the Charge Certificate and re-issue the Penalty Charge Notice (the legal name for a parking ticket), or if they do not, then await the registration of the debt at the court and the issue of an Order for Recovery.

The only way then to stop bailiffs arriving at the front door is for a witness statement to be sent to the court stating that the original Penalty Charge Notice was not received and requiring the court to cancel the registration of the debt and requiring the local authority to go back to the parking ticket stage. There are strict time limits to get this witness statement in to the court, and if the motorist fails to do so they can expect bailiffs at their door. Given the high percentage of mail that is lost in the post, it is likely that Orders for Recovery will rocket, bailiffs’ visits will increase, more vehicles will be impounded and general chaos will reign.

If this isn’t bad enough, the new legislation will mean that all parking tickets or other tickets issued on the basis of CCTV camera evidence will be subject to the same new procedure. (Currently all but one type of CCTV-issued tickets are subject to the three-stage appeal process: 1- the informal appeal to the council, 2- the formal appeal to the council, and 3- the final appeal to the Parking Adjudicator.) Moreover, as local authorities outside London start to issue CCTV tickets, this will have a further knock-on effect with corresponding Orders for Recovery and bailiffs’ visits.

The new Parking laws came into force by virtue of the Traffic Management Act 2004. Under this legislation the existing parking legislation, The Road Traffic Act 1991 legislation is repealed. The parking rules are now to be set out in statutory instruments by the Lord Chancellor.

Four Statutory Instruments were passed just before the 2007 Christmas recess on 10th December 2007. As these Statutory Instruments are “delegated legislation “ they were debated and approved in Committee rather than by the full Parliament.

The statutory Instruments are as follows:

Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) General Regulations 2007
Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions(Approved Devices)(England)Order 2007
Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) Representations and Appeals Regulations 2007.
The Removal and Disposal of Vehicles (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2007

Barrie Segal is the founder of, a website which helps
motorists fight unfair parking tickets.

Barrie is the author of “The Parking Ticket Awards: Crazy Councils, Meter Madness & Traffic Warden Hell” published by Portico.


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