Millions of parking tickets issued despite car use decline during pandemic

Millions of parking tickets issued despite car use decline during pandemic
Private parking firms hit drivers with 4.4 million parking tickets in 2020/21, analysis of Government data by RAC Foundation reveals.

As many as 12,000 tickets were dished out every day during the 12-month period, despite the number of motorists hitting the road plunging due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Car journeys fell as low as 22% of normal levels as a result of travel restrictions. The overall number of tickets issued was down from 8.4 million during the previous 12 months.

Parking companies seek out records from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in order to contact motorists about alleged infringements in private car parks. This could include violating parking rules at shopping centres, leisure facilities and motorway service areas, all of which can result in fines of up to £100.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, told PA news agency: “With the country and the economy in various states of lockdown, we’d have expected to see the number of keeper details being sought by the private parking sector falling quite dramatically.

“But what we have to realise is that the much-reduced number still amounts to 12,000 per day – which seems extraordinary when most of us have been following orders to stay at home and cut travel.

“Even if many of the parking charge notices issued are subsequently dropped when they are challenged, some people won’t believe that challenge is a reasonable option and so they pay up rather than face the hassle. That can’t be right.”

A total of 151 firms requested data about car owners in 2020/21 from the DVLA, which charges private firms £2.50 per record. The biggest buyer of records was ParkingEye which requested 975,559.

However, the DVLA says its charges are set to recover the cost of providing the information and it claims it does not make any money from the process.

Last summer, the RAC Foundation uncovered that private parking firms handed out a new ticket every four seconds during the 2019/20 financial year. 

The Parking (Code of Practice) Bill was introduced by Sir Greg Knight MP and became law in March 2019 to regulate the sector – exposing rogue parking firms and putting them out of business.

In March this year, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it expected a code of conduct for parking operators to be created before the summer, and a single appeals body to be launched by mid-2022.

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