RAC criticises private parking industry’s own ‘code of practice’

RAC criticises private parking industry’s own ‘code of practice’
The private parking industry has been criticised after deciding to introduce its own ‘inferior’ code of conduct, ahead of an official government one which has been subjected to delays for several years following legal challenges.

Proposed by the International Parking Community (IPC) and British Parking Association (BPA), the new rules for private parking operators – set to be introduced from the autumn – will give drivers a 10-minute grace period after their tickets expires.

Higher standards for signage are also included, along with a new ​appeals charter for drivers who wish to challenge fines. Private parking firms have been told by the industry they have until 2026 to ensure their signs and procedures adhere to the new rules. 

The rules have been branded as confusing and a shock by the RAC, which has campaigned for years for drivers to be treated more fairly. A formal Government Code of Practice, backed by legislation, is due to be introduced to drive up standards in the private parking sector and protect consumers.

​RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: “We’re flabbergasted that the BPA and IPC have suddenly announced plans to introduce their own ‘private parking code’ after doing all they can over the last five years to prevent the official Government Code created by an Act of Parliament coming into force. 

“While there are clearly some positive elements to what the private parking industry is proposing, it conveniently avoids some of the biggest issues around caps on penalty charges and debt recovery fees which badly need to be addressed to prevent drivers being taken advantage of.

“These elements, alongside a formal appeals process, are currently being worked on by the Government and in our opinion can’t come soon enough. Nothing should stand in the way of the official Code, least of all a new industry scheme which muddies the waters and risks confusing drivers.

“For the private parking industry to all of a sudden paint themselves as being whiter than white with their own ‘code’ and appeals charter takes irony to another level.”

Nicholas Lyes, director of policy and standards at charity IAM RoadSmart, said: “Drivers will wonder what has taken parking associations so long to publish the new code.

“No matter how they might dress it up, this is primarily being driven by new laws around the Government-led Parking Code of Practice, rather than a self-proclaimed gesture of being fairer to motorists.

“Some might say it is jumping before being pushed.”

In 2017, Sir Greg Knight MP introduced the Parking (Code of Practice) Bill which received Royal Assent in 2019 with cross-party backing and Government support.

The code included a £50 cap on tickets for most parking offences, a new independent appeals system, and the banning of aggressive language on tickets.

However, the Private Parking Code of Practice was withdrawn in February 2022 following a legal challenge from some of the parking companies. The Government says a new Code is due to be reissued ‘as quickly as possible’. 

In 2023, it was reported that private parking firms issue over 30,000 fines a day – costing drivers more than £1.1 billion.

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