/ Motoring

Complain for change: ever appealed a parking ticket?

We all dread those notices on the car windscreen that scream ‘you’ve got a parking ticket’. However, Which? research, along with my own experiences, suggests that it’s worth appealing…

‘Aaarrgghhhh,’ is usually my immediate response, followed by the resigned acceptance of: ‘that’s 60 quid down the drain’. But it doesn’t always have to be this way. In fact, our research has found that two thirds of people who appeal a parking ticket win their case.

I’ve got two such examples. The first was when a friend came to visit and I gave her a visitor permit to place on her dashboard. When she returned to her car the next morning, the permit had fallen to the floor and a shiny new parking ticket was secured to her windscreen instead.

She was furious, so we took photos of where the permit had landed in her car and she sent these to my local authority. Her appeal was upheld and they waived the fine. Before I move on to my second example, you may want to watch our video on how to contest a parking ticket:

Parking attendants – waiting to pounce?

The second example is a little more convoluted. I had purchased a new car and was waiting for my local authority to reissue me with a parking permit containing the new car details. In the meantime I had to use visitor permits to avoid being issued a ticket – despite already having paid for a yearly permit (but that’s another story).

One evening I forgot to put a permit on my dashboard but remembered first thing the next morning. To my utter dismay I had received a parking ticket despite getting to my car at 8.05am – parking restrictions start at 8am.

Now, I’m sure parking attendants are all very nice people, but I’m afraid that my first thought was that an attendant must have hung around my car waiting to pounce at 8am.

I immediately appealed against the ticket giving clear reasons for my appeal. I was successful and delighted that I didn’t have to pay the fine. So, I’m now firmly of the opinion that it’s definitely worth appealing. But I’m not sure everyone does – have you ever contested a parking ticket? Were you successful?

Susie B says:
13 September 2012

Hi – oh parking attendants are definitely waiting ready to pounce! I’ve watched them do it! They linger around corners and under hedges (ok, maybe not under hedges). I have a similar story to yours: my permanent permit was stuck to my windscreen but we had some very hot weather and it fell onto the dashboard – so it was still clearly visible, but just not stuck on the windscreen. We got a ticket! I was outraged and took pictures and appealed – money back no problem.
That was in Lambeth – I wonder if different authorities have different rules?

julie rumble says:
27 May 2014

Hi my permit fell off my vehicle outside my house in cold weather as was clearly visible although the wrong way up. I got a parking ticket from LONDON BOROUGH OF MERTON AND have been to court over this and it is still on going. LB of Merton even sent pics of the ticket on my windscreen and the file i have is currently 40 pages and counting. This must be one persons sole job to harass motorists in Merton. I hope this continuing case costs the council a whole month of Miss L Merrin’s pay.

I am not renewing my permit but will park in the nearest residential side road from now on.

This might sound a bit hard to believe but I swear it is true – my ex and I went to a shopping centre with pay-and-display parking. however, we didn’t want to pay so rather than park near the centre we parked much further away in a car park that, although it was pay and display, was free on Sundays. The charges for Saturdays and weekdays were up on signs, and there was nothing written on them about Sundays so we assumed that it would be OK to park.

Later, we came back to our car only to find a ticket on the dashboard. We were pretty surprised, but wondered if we’d read the signs wrong. It turns out we hadn’t, but on closer inspection all of the signs in the car park had had a white sticker on the sign covering up a bit of writing that said ‘free parking on sundays.’ We challenged the ticket, got our money back, and an excuse that they were getting new signs done as the adjustments to the old ones weren’t clear. They certainly weren’t! But I wonder how many people actually challenged the unfair fines?

I successfully contested a Parking Ticket in the Cathedral area of Lincoln in 2006. I had taken notice of the Parking limitations signs and it appeared that I would be OK for 4 hours. So on returning to my car 3 1/2h later I was surprised to a Parking Offence Notice on my windscreen. The following morning I took my camera to the same street and photographed all the signs in that street, they all allowed 4h parking. I then wrote to the Chief Constable enclosing my time/dated photographs, and received a courteous reply, blaming vandals for tearing off the plastic stickers that were limiting the parking to 1h, and the ticket was withdrawn. Moral – always check the signs and if necessary provide evidence where possible.

I received a parking ticket once in London for a metered parking space. The meter was clearly broken and had a sign on it saying so – so we took a photograph of the meter just in case we got a ticket. We DID get a ticket, and when we attempted to get a refund, they simply told us we should’ve found somewhere else to park.

Seems very harsh to me, as that parking space cost us £60!

Surely one can use the same defence as when caught on camera…

If you haven’t done anything wrong then you wouldn’t have got a ticket. Wardens cannot be expected to be sympathetic to every single personal excuse, there is a rule and if you don’t follow the rule, you get a ticket.

What I would like to know is why people are so quick to forgive a parking ticket but anything else and its “should’ve looked where you were going, should’ve read the signs” etc etc

Once I parked up in a council multi-storey car park around Christmas time when special rules were put in place to encourage shoppers in (i.e. free parking). To advertise the fact that parking was going to be free the council had strapped a laminated A4 card to the meter covering up the standard t’s and c’s, tariffs and days/times of applicability. The only problem was that they had done this all too early (the standard tariffs were still in force) and they had tried to get round the problem by folding the very springy laminated card back on itself to show the original information and circumvent the issue – this obviously didn’t work and the card’s on the machines just flicked back covering up everything. When I’d parked up I went to the machine and thought that the charges didn’t apply (since I couldn’t see the standard tariff information), but low and behold I came back from shopping and a ticket was plastered to the windscreen.

The parking attendant was still around and I managed to query it with him, but all he suggested was that I should appeal it since it was already logged in the system that they have. To back up my appeal I managed to get a disposable camera and took photos of the meters and laminated signs and then put the appeal in a.s.a.p which I won.

I now always try to double check parking regulations and if there is any doubt I take photo’s – meters and signs – the whole parking business is something of a money making racket and you have to be on your toes if you don’t want to get fleeced.

yes, iv’e contested and won. In my case I had bought a ticket but i had displayed it on the dashboard rather than the window and they didnt see it. I had to photocopy my ticket and they let me off. There are clearly horrible people as attendants about I’ve had them watching their watch, standing by my car and counting down for them to put the ticket on… no wonder they get assaulted so often!

I appealed a parking ticket and won – but this was because I had a valid disabled parking (not mine) permit displayed – The camera did not pick it up – I simply sent a photo copy and a letter from the disabled person who was in the car.

Most local authorities are running a scam on parking charges: they fail to give parking time that corresponds with money taken. For example, if you the tariff is 80p for the first hour and you insert a £1 coin. They don’t give £1-worth of time, or change, they just keep your money.

The Weights and Measures Act appears to indicate it’s an offence to deliver a lesser quantity than corresponds with the price charged:
any person who, in selling or purporting to sell any goods by weight or other measurement or by number, delivers or causes to be delivered to the buyer—
(a)a lesser quantity than that purported to be sold, or
(b)a lesser quantity than corresponds with the price charged,

There’s no technical reason for the scam. The machine manufacturers say the machines can be programmed to give time that corresponds exactly with the coins inserted. So if you insert £1.05-worth of coins, you get exactly £1.05-worth of time. It’s called ‘linear’ or ‘stepped linear’, where it’s linear at one rate for the first hour, and linear at another rate for the second hour. In fact, I think the following councils do it:

Councils have admitted to making lots of money at this scam of taking money without delivering parking time. I hope they get prosecuted.

Unfortunately, that legislation is clearly only for GOODS. Parking is a service provision and would not be covered by this legislation. In fact, the regulations are all about how much to fine you for numerous infringements with little protection for the user!

Meters that provide change would be far more expensive and operating them (i.e. ensuring sufficient change is always available) would cost more leading to increased parking charges.

The current regulations state that the drivers should have sufficient money when they enter the car park, clearly putting the onus on the driver. It sure as hell is unfair but as alternative arrangements would result in higher charges, I’m happy for them to remain as they are.

Most modern cars have somewhere to stow a few coins safely out of sight for such occasions!

A few years back we appealed and won. Would you believe that we took my 92 year old mother into town and parked in a badge holders’ parking bay. I’d never done this before so never took any notice when mother put her permit in the front window photo side down (her thinking that they need to see the license number rather than her mug shot!).

We got a ticket for displaying the permit upside down! When I researched this on the Internet, I discovered that organisations all over Europe had complained that the permits were confusing and unacceptable as there was no real distinction between front and back. I appealed on the grounds of inexperience and pointing out a list of organisations that had complained about the confusing design.

It never ceases to amaze me that in the 21st century that idiots are set free to design forms and ID cards, etc without giving one thought to clarity, layout and simplicity. (Try applying for Passports for a family with three children 10, 14 and 16 plus two adults! Feel sorry for the countersigner too!)

Terry Farrell wrote:
>”Unfortunately, that legislation is clearly only for GOODS. Parking is a service …”

Well spotted. I didn’t see that. It *should* be an offence in this case.

>”Meters that provide change would be far more expensive…”

Inability to give change isn’t an excuse. They can easily make the time match the money. Manufacturers call it ‘linear’ or ‘stepped linear’. It’s commonplace in France and it’s often found in private car parks. I think the following councils use stepped linear charging to ensure parking time matches coins paid: Ashford, Canterbury, Carlisle, Dover, Hackney, Kent, Maidstone, Thanet, Warwick, Warwickshire.

Redcar and Cleveland Council pocketed nearly £100,000 in the last three years from this scam. Similarly Craven District Council took an extra £30,000 and gave nothing in return.There are plenty of articles online about this scam. I’d like to see ‘Which’ raise it as a campaign.

When you park it’s a good idea to make a note of the exact time and the tyre inflation valve positions [using the clockface, eg Front Offside 2 o’c, etc]. You can use this data to check the authenticity of a parking ticket in the event of an appeal. Parking attendants are curious specimens and it is not unknown for some tickets to be created fictitiously.

Stiggers says:
18 September 2012

I contested a parking ticket when i had issued when i was buying a ticket to park at a mcahine down the road. The ticket had been written out while i was attempting to put money in the machine which was being very fussy about accepting certain coins and had an independant witness to back up my case. The attendant refused to listen and the appeal was refused by Merton Council. The Parking Atterntant said he could not see me at the machine and must have been lurking in the bushes and waiting to pounce. Either that or he needed new spectacles!

I always thought, it was illegal to park on double yellow lines, but i read recently in my local paper, that if cars were parked on double yellow lines, and not causing an obstrucion, the local police said, there’s nothing they could do. This article refered to mothers parking half up on the pavement, and in the road, outside a school.

From the gov.uk website


You MUST NOT wait or park on yellow lines during the times of operation shown on nearby time plates (or zone entry signs if in a Controlled Parking Zone).

Double yellow lines indicate a prohibition of waiting at any time even if there are no upright signs.

Part of Law RTRA sects 5 & 8

Paul Beale says:
23 November 2012

I always appeal parking tickets on the basis that the signage is not correct. A typical sign might say you can park for a maximum of one hour and no return within four hours. Well I moved my car to another location on the other side of the same road, in theory I have complied with their request, I have not parked for longer than one hour and I have not returned to the same parking space, I have however moved to another location and on this occasion my wife has parked the car in the new space. This one hour allowance is per driver not car! I have appealed every time and one every time, because I have not broken the rules! The sign also does not say you cannot park in the same road it says you cannot return to the same space within four hours after your one hour allowance!

You need to track down the traffic warden that issues the ticket and get his number and have him accept the car has been moved. This they can identify because they note the position of the dust caps like a face clock on the car!

That seems rather selfish. How would you like it if you could not find a parking space because others were playing the same game?

Now I understand why some on-street parking is zoned, and you are not allowed to move a car to anywhere else in the same zone.

You parked in a short-term parking area. It gives everyone the chance of popping in to town to pick up a few things or go to the bank. If you need a longer stop, go to a medium-term car park. Your actions are selfish and thoughtless and cost the local community money.

Wavechage is correct – you cannot simply “move your car” within the same zone designation (and this includes adjacent streets under the same zone letter). However, most councils are rather vague about this rule and can fall foul of not explaining it correctly to motorists. All it would take is the addition of “no return to zone A [or whatever] within 3 hours”

Paul Beale says:
23 November 2012

If councils and town planners offered more spaces for parking at lower costs we would not have to get parking tickets, after all we are paying huge amounts of money each year to tax our vehicles and
the cost of the road fund tax. My wife and I both pay in excess of £1,000 each for car insurance for each of our cars and the road tax for each is £265 and £455; so why cant they provide more parking spaces; after all if I cant park in the town then I wont shop in the town and then the town shops go out of business. We only need short term parking bays, say one hour max then issue a ticket if you must.

The local police always park where they want especially at lunch time when they are hungry and nip into the local cafe – when I see them – I tell them to move their car or I will take a photo and demand that they get a parking ticket unless they are attending a 999 emergency! They don’t like it but neither do I – let them find a space like we do!

Your road fund licence fee and car insurance have nothing to do with the local council who have to finance parking in their area. They need to balance the affect of vehicles parking in every place and the cost of provision.

In my city, when local councils were given the power to create on street parking and charge for it, miraculously many double yellow line disappeared and became parking bays. A great money earner.

Some years later after locals complained about cars ruining the city centre they are now all double yellow lines again.

Madness says:
28 November 2012

My son received a parking ticket today at his local Morrisons Store in Stowmarket. His disability badge was on show in the front of the car as requested (Dash Board) but apparently it was not visable for the inspector so he gave him a parking ticket. My son caught him putting the notice on the windscreen and pointed it out to him but he just ignored him and continued to take photographs of the vehicle. What rights have he got and what should he do.

I appealed for the same complaint to a local council – They cancelled the fee.

I parked in a shopping centre car park, privately operated. First 2 hours free – just take a ticket. That’s a sensible deal for trade. I was on my way to the machine for a ticket, realised I’d forgotten my phone, back to the car, then to the shops – forgot my ticket! ( it comes with age). 25 minutes later I returned of course to find a parking penalty – £50. My fault, no question. I would have coughed up a reasonable amount without bothering too much, but £50 – too much.
I appealed on their website with evidence of my short stay, an explanation and offered a more modest penalty as I had not deprived them of income. Refused of course, but it took much longer to give their decision than their terms stated. So as a last resort I appealed again on that basis, and surprisingly they cancelled the penalty.
There is conflicting advice given – some say ignore the penalty totally – their only resort is court action and they won’t do it. That takes nerves of steel. Others say it’s a contract so pay up.
Has anyone had success dealing with private penalties?

You have to remember that parking, as a stealth tax, is the most reliable form of income generation for councils. They have a captive audience, and as part of most Councils allegiance to the principles of rip-off Britain, they will continue to target motorists as an easy target. Overpaid senior council workers, who do not have to worry about the cost of motoring, also don’t, as a rule, worry about the town centre retailers who they collect enormous sums in rates (and sometimes rent) from either. They completely ignore the fact that the motorist (=shopper) who dislikes being ripped-off for parking their car, will instead, drive to the safe confines of the out of town shopping centre, where parking is free and penalties (unless the driver acts like a complete idiot) virtually non-existent. This is a big contributory reason why city centre shops are closing by the dozens every week and the percentage of city centre shops vacant is generally into double figures throughout the land.

However, it must be said that despite my own loathing to pay even more car tax in the form of car parking charges (on top of road licence, taxes on petrol, insurance premium tax etc), completely free parking at all times in town centres would lead to congestion and general carnage far beyond town management capabilities. It would make the job of the police and emergency services ever more difficult.

One bottom line is the ease with which councils could make their taxing machines allocate time in proportion to the amount of money you insert into them. At least that would be a little more equitable for the continually hard-press motorist.

maya says:
15 July 2014

I feel prepaid parking is unfair! You can’t know how long you will stay so you have a rough guess then you leave one hour early and nobody gives you a refund for the one hour you paid for but did not use. Parking should be paid on exit, that way it is fair and you pay only for the time you genuinely used. Parking fees are a daylight robbery and bullying of people who are just trying to get on with the day but get held up for various reasons.

Kevin says:
13 February 2013

I just received a letter saying in had a parking ticket from the 28th December. The council has a photo of the ticket on my car windscreen and my ticket 5 minutes overdue but I swear that there was nothing when I got back to my car. I am willing to accept that I exceeded the time on my ticket by a few minutes but as I never knew about the penalty charge notice I am now having to pay the full £60 rather than £30 if I had paid within 14 days.
Is there any grounds for appeal or is it just a case of my word against theirs? I can’t help but feel that the parking warden issued the ticket and then took it away to guarantee me paying the full penalty.