Experts at Quotezone.co.uk have urged drivers to check restrictions before a shopping trip, following the news that private firms are issuing up to 30,000 tickets per day. The huge number of fines equates to one every three seconds with private operators set to make £1billion in revenue through parking tickets alone.
With demand for parking spaces at a peak in December, Christmas shoppers could be more at risk of receiving a fine if they are unable to find their usual parking spot and have to leave their car in a location they know less well.
Private parking firms operate a wide variety of locations from supermarkets to vacant city centre lots and multi-storey blocks.
They often don’t apply the same rules as council-run car parks and can have higher fines for even minor parking transgressions.
Drivers are therefore being urged to check for any information boards before leaving their car and heading to the shops.
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Greg Wilson, the founder of Quotezone.co.uk, said: “Christmas is an expensive time of year and this December many families will already be stretching their budgets to the limit.
“The last thing anyone needs right now is a parking ticket when they’re buying Christmas presents for their loved ones but with many car parks full in the run up to Christmas, drivers are having to find somewhere different to leave their car and that could mean a private car park.
“We’re urging all shoppers to check for information boards and make sure they fully understand the costs and restrictions which apply before they leave their vehicle.”
He added the warning: “With 11 percent of people admitting to leaving valuable Christmas presents in their cars while they park up and enjoy the festivities, it’s important drivers choose a well-lit area, if possible – especially if it’s an unfamiliar location, and hide any gifts out of sight.”
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Anyone who does find themselves with a parking fine they feel is undeserved can appeal it – with 60 percent of appeals being successful.
Mr Wilson added: “If you do return from a Christmas shopping expedition to find a parking ticket on your windscreen don’t despair as private fines can be challenged – but only if you can prove you were fined unfairly.”
Around 35,000 people dispute their tickets each year with the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, and a striking 64 percent of those appeals are successful.
There are, however, a number of steps that drivers must follow in order to appeal a fine issued by a private firm. These are…
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Don’t ignore it
The most important part of getting a parking ticket is to not ignore the fine. Doing so may result in a serious increase in the fine, debt enforcement action, or even a court order.
Check what type of parking ticket it is
Formal bodies and private companies have different appeal procedures, so it’s important to find out which one has been handed out.
Official tickets are called Penalty Charge Notice, Excess Charge Notice or Fixed Penalty Notice and drivers can find the name of the issuing authority on the ticket, all other tickets are issued by private companies.
Don’t miss out on the 50 percent discount by taking too long to pay. The money off should still be frozen and applied if appeals are filed within 14 days of receiving the ticket.
To make the case stronger, it’s good to have some evidence to back up claims. The easiest way to prove that no parking rules were broken is to provide photo or CCTV evidence.
If it’s not possible in certain situations to find photo or CCTV evidence, the next step is to provide any witness statements. When illegal parking is excused by a medical emergency or condition drivers should get a doctor’s note.
Make the right type of appeal
There are a couple of different appeals that can be filed: informal or formal. Informal appeals only apply to Penalty Charge Notices which are left on windscreens. Just send the appeal to the local authority and include any relevant evidence that has been collected.
If the informal appeal is unsuccessful or the fine was sent by post, drivers will have to go through the formal appeal process. This involves filling out and submitting a form if motorists want to get penalties overturned.
If the dispute fails in the formal stage as well, then fined drivers can take appeals to the private adjudicator for free. There are options for personal hearings or completing the process by email, phone or post.