Nick Smith MP Battles the Private Parking Scamdal

Published 16 April 2014

There have been no legal challenges to Private Parking Law that came into effect in October 2012. But at least Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent is challenging legislation that robs motorists of at least £140,000,000 a year.

Nick Smith MP is calling for action to defend the motorist against predatory private parking operators who milk motorists through dubious business practices, which the British Parking Association (BPA) has failed to curb.

Nick Smith MP says the business model of some operators is based on motorists ‘making mistakes’ so they can be fleeced for an alleged breach of car park ‘rules’.

These include machines requiring the driver to key in his registration accurately, ticket dispensing machines that fail to dispense tickets, and installing payment machines in places that force drivers to park in order to use them, even if no parking spaces are left.

These operators are allowed to breach the Data Protection Act and obtain vehicle keepership dated from the DVLA on the basis of the 'Just Cause' that they are pursuing drivers for breaches of parking contracts.*

“Figures just released from the DVLA are staggering. Requests for data from private parking companies have sky rocketed every year since 2010/11 (see figures below). They have now blasted through the 2 million barrier with a total of 2,430,130 requests in 2013/14. An increase of 28% on 2012/13.”

Nick Smith MP said: “There is a veil of secrecy about the business practices of private car park operators that needs to be lifted.

“When I commented on a media report that Vehicle Control Services (VCS) pays an annual £25,000 fee in return for the 24-hour patrol and management of an approach road at Liverpool John Lennon Airport – and then hits the motorist with a £100 PCN if they stop to drop off a relative – I was surprised how many people contacted me with similar stories.

“No wonder the DVLA’s own Consumer Forum is exploring what action can be taken to curb ‘over-zealous’ parking enforcement practices.

“Ministers tell me that there is now a new body operated independently, POPLA (established by the self – regulatory trade body, the British Parking Association, and funded by the private parking industry) which will hear motorists’ appeals if they think they’ve got a PCN they don’t deserve. Of the 16,317 appeals POPLA heard up to 8th December 2013, according to the BPA, 7,074 or 43% found in favour of the motorist.

“But this ‘protection’ for the motorist falls woefully short of what’s needed.

“Still the government sits on its hands. What’s needed is independent and effective regulation of the private car parking industry, which puts the consumer interest first.”

*: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/who-dvla-shares-data-with

Electronic Vehicle Record Enquires by parking companies with potential income at £30/£60/£100 per charge notice

2010/11 -     Annual Total  -  1,178,034 - £35,241,020 / £70,682,040

2011/12  -    Annual Total  -  1, 574,397 - £47,231,910 / £94,463,820

2012/13 -     Annual Total  -  1,897, 572 - £56,927,160 / £113,853,320

2013/14 -     Annual total –   2,430,130 -  £72,903,390 / £145,807,800

& Minutes of DVLA Consumer Forum – 27th June 2013

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/consumer-forum-minutes-june-2013

 

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