More than three in five motorists want a further government crackdown on car parking firms, a survey has found.
In total, 46 per cent of all motorists have received a parking ticket, with 24 per cent having been hit by a private firm and 22 per cent by a council issued charge, the Go Compare data claims.
Those parking in London and the South East are the most likely to have received a ticket in the past, the data from the comparison website shows.
Fair? 24% of those surveyed by GoCompare had received a parking charge from a private company, 2% higher than those who said they had been fined by a council
Furthermore, 43 per cent believe private parking firms use too much intimidation to force drivers into paying unfair charges.
The survey found 15 per cent had received threatening letters from solicitors when refusing to pay a penalty charge and seven per cent had received phone calls from debt collectors.
The findings appear to highlight public backing for both This is Money’s campaign against private parking sharks, and potentially for the Government’s new Parking (Code of Practice) Act – which became law on 15 March.
The new act creates a single code of practice, which will be drafted later this year, and independent appeals service.
The appeals service is designed to make it easier for drivers to challenge unfair parking charges, while the act is intended to take regulation out of the hands of the industry itself.
The Conservative MP behind the act, Sir Greg Knight, said the code would mandate the DVLA not to sell drivers’ details to companies who didn’t abide by it.
This is Money has called for motorists to be able to stop the DVLA allowing private firms to buy their details.
In just three regions of Great Britain had fewer than 24% of motorists received a private parking charge
A recent Freedom of Information request found the DVLA made £16.3million from handing out drivers’ details to third parties last year, while separate data from the RAC Foundation predicted 6.8million drivers would have their keeper records sold to car parking firms in the 12 months to April 2019.
Half of those surveyed had received their private charge from shopping centre, supermarket and retail park car parks.
In October This is Money reported on the Basildon shopping centre car park whose operating firm handed out so many charges to shoppers that a fightback Facebook group with 5,000 members was set up in response.
That firm appears to have since lost its licence to operate the car park.
We have also called for the DVLA to investigate when large numbers of applications are made for a specific location frequently to see if the charge is fair as part of the campaign – something which could happen under the new act.
A further 12 per cent of drivers received parking charges when parking at either hospitals or clinics.
According to the GoCompare survey, 2% more motorists had received a private parking charge than a council issued one. London drivers received more than anyone else
In December we covered how the residents of Henley-upon-Thames won the battle against a private parking firm accused of frequently slapping unfair charges on visitors to its new hospital.
The survey of 2,000 found that 56 per cent wanted hospitals to be banned from using private car parking firms.
The South East had the highest percentage of drivers who had received a private parking charge – 29 per cent.
The East had the joint-lowest with 17 per cent of drivers receiving one.
However, of the 11 regions in Britain (excluding Northern Ireland), there were just three where the percentage of drivers who had received a private parking charge was lower than 24 per cent.
In six regions a quarter or more of drivers had received one.
The survey found the most common reason why someone received a parking charge was overstaying the free parking time limit – 35 per cent received one for this – while 24 per cent received a charge for staying longer than the time paid for.
Lee Griffin, founder and president of Go Compare Car Insurance said: ‘Many motorists and consumer groups would like to see private car parking management companies properly regulated to ensure that the charges they issue are just and reasonable.
‘It will be interesting to see if a new Code of Practice and appeals body will be enough to stop millions of motorists receiving what they believe are unfair ‘parking tickets.
‘No one can argue with getting a ticket for not paying for parking when it’s obvious you should be or for paying for one hour and staying for two.
‘However, it’s clear that many motorists believe the way some car parks are operated is not with a view to managing them efficiently but to generate substantial revenue through opportunist ‘penalty’ charges.’
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