Private car parking operators will be forced to give motorists a grace period before issuing a fine under a new code of practice proposed by the Government.
Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said that the code of practice would clamp down on “rogue” parking firms in England, Scotland and Wales which hand out unjust fines and use aggressive tactics to harass drivers.
Under the new code, which is being developed by the British Standards Institution, all private operators will have to allow drivers a 10-minute grace period after their ticket expires before issuing a penalty. At the moment, a voluntary industry code suggests a grace period but it is not legally enforceable.
The proposal aims to create a mandatory code with a single set of rules which all operators must follow.
If the code is made into law, it will bring private car parks into line with council facilities in England, where the grace period has been a legal requirement since 2015.
The code of practice will also crackdown on firms using intimidating or aggressive debt collection practices to enforce their charges.
Mr Jenrick said: “For too long rogue parking firms have operated in an unregulated industry, handing out unjust fines, putting drivers through baffling appeals processes and issuing tickets to motorists who were only seconds late back to their cars.
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“That’s why we’ve appointed the British Standards Institution to work with consumer groups and industry to write the first ever compulsory code of practice for private parking firms.
“The new code will restore common sense to the way parking fines are handed out, encourage people back onto our high-streets and crack down on dodgy operators who use aggressive tactics to harass drivers.”
The news comes after figures revealed private parking firms issued two million extra parking tickets in 2018/19, worth up to £680m.
Under the new code, operators who do not follow the rules will be banned from requesting driver data from the DVLA, which is what they use to issue their parking charges.
The Code is also set to introduce a new independent appeals service, giving drivers greater support to challenge unjustified parking tickets.
It had been hoped that a grace period would be included in new regulations introduced in March 2019 but the measure was left out of the Parking (Code of Practice) Act.