/ 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?

dilip says:
10 April 2013

i got parking notice in post i do not know i request the photo but they say we do not have a photo because camera battery run out this is ticket morning 9,5am

what should i do

Noor Ali-Elmi says:
10 April 2013

Well if they have no photo there is no proof so do not pay nothing, write to them and tell them your reasons they may try to intimidate you and say you have to go tribunal so what go for it, but do not ignore any of their letters respond them asap and keep copies of all correspondence always send the letters with recorded delivery too.

Dnl Reilly says:
13 May 2013

For most of last year I was involved in a dispute process about a parking ticket. This ended up with the Scottish Parking Appeals Service. I was advised of a hearing date, phoned them to say it wasn’t suitable for me and was told I would get a new date sent out. The next communication from them was to say that the hearing had gone ahead and rejecting my appeal, partly on the basis that I didn’t attend (!). Letters from me in response to this have gone unanswered, including one which asked if they answered to regulatory body or had a code of practice.

Any suggestions? Does anyone know if there is an regulatory body for the Scottish Parking Appeals Service?

Hi Dnl Reilly,

I asked my colleague in the Cars team to look into this for you, and he has spoken to the Scottish Parking Appeals Service on your behalf. Apparently you can ask them for a review of your appeal on the basis that you were unable to attend. In order to do this write to SPAS quoting your PCN (parking ticket number) and explaining the situation.

If all else fails, you can go to judicial review, but you’d need to speak to a lawyer about that.

Good luck!

Martin says:
15 May 2013

On the subject of privately operated *parking* charge notices (note it is not a *penalty* charge notice as they have no legal right to issue these) I ignored it following advice from multiple sources.
I ignored the final warning and I ignored the letter from the “legal team” (i.e. the guy sitting at the next desk). Nothing happened. They don’t want to go to court because they are afraid of losing (which they probably would) and the impact that would have on their business model.

I once parked in a road where roadworks had taken place and the yellow lines were missing.
That cost me 2 or 3 parking tickets, and the cost of getting a wheel clamp removed plus the cost of getting to the place where I had to pay.
I appealed and lost.

Another time I was on a meter that displayed different times on each side of the meter. I arrived back in time to see the traffice warden writing out a ticket although I was still in time on the other side of the meter. He completely ignored me when I pointed this out to him.
I appealed and won.

sue says:
27 May 2013

iparked in one of 3 car parks when attending a hospital for treatment,returned to find a parking ticket,when i challenged the ticket i was told that this car park belonged to the hospital,and was not council grounds,there were no signs to say i was on hospital grounds, i even bought a pay and display ticket,i feel i have been done twice

Can Anyone Answer This Question For Me ?

At Morrisons In Doncaster There Is A Parking Area Outside The Store Where You Are Entitled To Park For Free For 15 Minutes.
I Was Intrigued To See A Civil Enforcement Officer Appear And Park His Scooter (With An L Plate To The Rear Of His Scooter) On Double Yellow Lines Behind The Offending Vehicle While He Issued A Parking Ticket For A Driver Over Staying The 15 Minutes Time Limit !

Question 1 Is Are Civil Enforcement Officers Allowed To Issue Tickets When Only Being A Learner Driver Of The Vehicle They Are Riding ?

Question 2 Is Are Civil Enforcement Officers Allowed To Park There Vehicle On Double Yellow Lines Whilst Issuing A Parking Ticket For A Parking Offence When They Are Also Committing A Parking Offence At The Same Time ?

I know this is no defence, however, I received a ticket for parking in a car park outside our local leisure centre. The car park is free for the first three hours but a ticket must be displayed. I simply forgot and took my 4 year-old daughter into a play-centre. Half an hour later we returned to the car to find a ticket which will cost me £25 (within 14 days). The car park closes at 5 pm. Had I got a ticket the time would have taken me beyond the closing time! If this is not just a money-making scam, I’m not sure what is!

Jim, you are getting off lightly! I had a similar experience, forgetting to get the free ticket and returned to the car after 20 minutes to find a £90 penalty. I argued my case and UKPC took so long to reply they dropped the matter. Mt daughter took her 2 children to a park where the car parking also serves shops. She overstayed a 2 hour limit by 20 minutes on a sunday and got a £100 penalty.
You are quite right, it is a scam and should be stopped. It is high time Which campaingned to put an end to this form of extortion.

Julie Bidwell says:
7 February 2014

I parked where it was only possible to pay by mobile phone. All seemed to be well, and then when I was away from the car got a text to confirm number plate. I did so and shortly after got another , which I also responded to. I later got a message to say that my payment was cancelled because I hadn’t confirmed. Tried to ring the number and got the same sorry cycle so as soon as I could I went online. None of my login details worked so I clicked on the link to get a new pin number and received a text message saying “Your pin number is” – and nothing else. Having had this twice I immediately went back and moved the car to a normal pay and display. When I got home I emailed Phone and Pay and they confirmed (2 days later) that they could see I had tried to pay but it hadn’t been processed because I hadn’t confirmed the text message with my details on. Today I received a parking charge notice which I am appealing and have sent a copy of the email received. Has anyone else had this and what are my chances? I don’t feel like ever using that car park or that method of paying ever again!

M Brightside says:
7 February 2014

I recently entered a car park – the barriers let me in and I took a ticket….trouble is there were no spaces left in the car park! Usually you only get let in if there is space right??!!

So I parked in a non-designated space (ie some grass, not blocking anybody or causing obstruction). Paid for car on return at pay-station, then found ticket on car.

Am appealing since I didn’t want to either wait for a space to come free or leave the car (in a non-designated space) to go to the pay-station to pay for a non-existent space so i could exit the car park.

What are my chances of a successful appeal??

M Brightside says:
27 May 2014

Re the appeal above… I won, they cancelled the fine.

julie rumble says:
27 May 2014

i got a pcn outside my house when my permit fell off the windscreen in cold weather. Even though Merton council have a record of my permit and council tax and took photos of my permit the wrong way up and issued a pcn. The case is still on going 40 pages and counting i have already been to court and still fighting it. I hope the amount of work has kept L Merrin at London Borough of Merton in a job for a month – imagine how much of my & everyone elses council tax this has cost so far.

It is not well known that Blue Badge holders have the right to park anywhere on the public highway – even on double yellow lines provided they are not causing an obstruction. However, should they choose to park in a public car park they are usually permitted to park free of charge only in the bays marked with the disabled symbol. If they use any other bay they have to pay the full charge for the time as stated on the tariff. Some places might have exceptions to this and be fairer towards Blue Badge holders [especially in car parks with very few disabled bays and none vacant] so it’s worth checking the signs. In some places Sundays are free days in public car parks but there might be a maximum stay rule that still applies and can be enforced with a PCN.

There might be another nasty little wrinkle lurking in the world of parking finances. I think council car parks do not pay VAT to the government yet they charge as much as or more than private car parks that do.

John, the rules for blue badge holders differ from council to council. On yellow lines you may have 3 hours if it is not causing an obstruction, but some allow unlimited. In car parks you can park anywhere and take advantage of any blue badge concession – the disabled bays are wider for those needing better access. But be careful – some charge full rate, some allow an extra hour free on top of what you pay for, and some allow unlimited free parking; you need to check the charge sign or you could have a nasty surprise. I suppose charging blue badge holders is not unreasonable – they are spread across the income range just as any other motorist. The main thing is to provide them with larger parking spaces nearest to where they might want to go, and to minimise the distance they have to walk in town centres, hence the double-yellow concession.

Yes it is so confusing. Generally, I consider Blue Badge holders to be very responsible parkers and frequently pay to use a standard car park bay [because no disabled bays are vacant] when they could have just parked on the street. I feel that charging Blue Badge holders to park in a standard bay is a bit unfair when they could just as [or more] easily park on the street, especially if the number of reserved bays is patently inadequate. I have no vested interest in this at the moment except that I am wholly in favour of easing the burden of those who have severe mobility difficulties even if that means that others have to pay slightly more.

John, still confusion! You do not have to park in a disabled bay with a blue badge – you can park in any bay and still get any parking charge concession that applies.

I realise that is the rule on the street but I was referring to a Council-owned car park I saw on holiday in Yorkshire. There was a notice clearly stating that if a disabled badge-holder parks in a standard [undesignated] car park bay they must pay the charge according to the tariff and display the ticket; if they do not they will attract a penalty charge notice. Councils, unlike private car park owners, can include their car parks in Traffic Management Orders and regulate them in ways they are prevented from doing on the public highway. They have the power to enforce any regulations through the issue of penalty charge notices by patrolling enforcement oficers.

richard e says:
19 June 2014

Parked in Camden on single yellow line at 17:27 on a Sunday… chatted to a friend over the road and did not notice a warden pounce to give me a ticket timed at 17:28 and 40 seconds, 1 minute 20 seconds before restriction is over, some of the photos show 17:32 as the time past the restriction period, and… rofl… you can see me in the background on one of the photos walking off oblivious as I clearly would never believe the craziness of the situation…
The ticket was not on the windscreen when I went back to my car later, so was oblivious of the “offence” until I got a letter today asking me for £130.
Some laughing idiot probably removed the ticket as a joke.
So I’ve appealed of course… I was a bit annoyed so I used the words “criminal behaviour” and “stooping low”… I doubt I’ll get a good hearing for that reason but I’ll put a note on here within 10 days to feedback the result!
lol… Camden is full of drugs and the authorities go after me instead… I think I need a “smoke!” 🙂

richard e says:
15 July 2014

They charged me half price, @£65. I could not be bothered to appeal again. I did however see the gentleman who put the ticket on my car sneakily waiting round the corner when I parked there again recently. I just stayed in the car until exactly 5:30 this time.

As says:
24 June 2014

I received a ticket through the post from Newham council stating that I parked my car on a restricted no loading bay before restriction ended at 8pm. The CCTV States that I parked at 19:57. I checked the time on my Cars dashboard before I parked which said 8, I didn’t realise the time was off by a couple of minutes at the time. I appealed which got rejected. Is there any point in taking it further?

It might be too late now but I think an appeal would be worth while. Councils are expected to exercise discretion at the beginning and end of waiting restriction times and give the driver the benefit of the doubt within five minutes. It is not unknown for the CCTV system to be unsynchronised with standard time; if you are stil able to appeal and decide to do so you could ask the Council to submit evidence showing when they last carried out a timecheck on their CCTV system. [There two digital platform clocks on Norwich Station, both supposed to be synchronised with the national time signal, showing different times but although they are out of step by around one minute they both change their times in perfect harmony.]

cherish says:
14 July 2014

Ok So now i know i have both legs to stand on with my case. I came home late friday night to see there were no parking spaces out side apart from 3 disabled spots. Funny thing is the person parked outside my house holds a disabled permit. So i parked the car in a disabled spot with the intention of moving it first thing in the morning… 7:55 i went out to move the car as there had become another spot availible, Then see there was a big bright ticket on the car, i felt like chacing the woman down the road but didnt as im not the nicest person when im peed off. The ticket was printed at 7:48am, Not even 8am… I will refuse to pay, Its a bloody joke

I would recommend you to pay the penalty immediately; any delay or prevarication will cost you dearly. Parking in a disabled bay without displaying a Blue Badge is an absolute contravention and it applies twenty-four hours a day, every day. The fact that a car displaying a Blue Badge was parked in an undesignated bay outside your house is no mitigation; the disabled parking bays might have been occupied at the time the driver of that car wanted to park and, as Malcolm confirms above, Blue Badge holders have the right to park virtually anywhere on the public highway [including on double yellow lines provided they are not causing an obstruction] and are not required to use a disabled parking bay even if one is vacant. Councils are especially unsympathetic to people who park in disabled spaces without authority and they deploy patrols at night to enforce against them.

badger says:
4 August 2014

Parked in a pay and display car park, got young kids out of car and into buggy completely forgot to pay 70p for ticket. Came back to find a warden at the car giving me a ticket. I said “dammit, I forgot!” His comment to me was”why take the risk?” Who would bloody risk a £60 fine for 70p?! So bloody frustrating! I always get tickets and take a photo before i leave car parks. Complete idiot this time but mind was on other things. Grrrr.

Annie says:
12 August 2014

Walking back to car noticed an attendant taking a photo of car. Queried why as had a valid ticket she said wasn’t displayed properly windy day had blown over. She acknowledged ticket was valid still handover an hour but still proceeded to issue ticket. Private car park she said I would need to appeal and it would be waived. Appealed and company say I don’t have to pay £60 but have to pay a £10 cancellation fee. This is becUse ticket not displayed properly and it is drivers responsility to check it is displayed clearly. Tickets do not have sticky on them so cant stick to window and when door was closed blustery day has overturned If not paid will be charged £100. Can appeal again but if not upheld will have to pay £100. Can they charge this £10. Should I just write and say am not going to pay

I suggest you put this down to experience and keep a roll of sticky tape handy or simply check that the ticket is visible when leaving the car. It’s not a huge amount of money and the fact is that you failed to display the ticket as you are required to do.

I’m not sure that the private car park operator can legitimately charge £10 for cancelling a parking fine but there is very little effective regulation and esentially the operators make their own rules. They probably only have two options – either (a) to cancel the ticket unconditionally, or (b) to enforce it absolutely; in effect they are offering you a crafty way out whereby they get something out of it [£10] and you also get something [closure]. Such a debt might actually be unenforceable but to reach that conclusion would probably give you a lot of grief and involve you in a lot of trouble and expense. Personally I would not recommend making a formal refusal to pay in this case but you might like to consider making a smaller offer [say, £5] and seeing if they concede. Best to keep it simple and not wind them up with quasi-legal arguments over whether or not they have the right to make a cancellation charge. Private car park operators can be even less forgiving than local authorities and the people they employ to pursue the penalties really are on payment by results so be prepared to pay £10 to get a clean exit from this unhappy experience.

Annie’s experience above is very common with Pay-&-Display parking tickets, visitor permits and other vouchers that rely on some form of adhesive to stick them to the wind screen. Leaving them lying on the dashboard doesn’t work either because they can be dislodged or blown off by the change of internal air pressure when the last car door is shut [and if it’s the rear hatch you might not notice that the ticket had dropped to the floor or turned upside down]. As Wavechange says, it’s always best to check the ticket is visible before leaving the scene. Pay-&-Display machines usually issue a timed ticket with an adhesive backing that you have to carefully peel off and stick on the reverse of the upper half of the ticket before then adhering it to the inside of the windscreen. What a fiddle-faddle! So many things can go wrong with this procedure – the ticket-backing isn’t sticky enough, the inside surface of the windscreen is greasy, the heat of the sun dries up the adhesive, the ticket loses it’s grip, falls off, curls up, and becomes unreadable. What a primitive way to pay for parking! My tip for overcoming these nuisance factors is to have a little Bulldog clip in the car that you can use to attach the ticket to the [lowered] passenger side sun visor [make sure it’s the right way up and clearly visible through the windscreen]. If you have a camera handy it doesn’t hurt to take a quick snapshot for use in evidence if you have to challenge a penalty charge notice, and always keep the ticket as proof of purchase. Given the flaws in the Pay-&-Display system I think councils and other operators should be more willing to relent for a first contravention when the driver can actually produce evidence that they have bought a ticket covering the time parked.

Badger above mentions how easy it is to forget to buy a Pay-&-Display ticket when parking. Getting children out of the car safely and into their pushchair, or dealing with elderly or infirm or disabled people [they don’t all have Blue Badges] is a nightmare in a busy car park – very dangerous places. It’s about time the powers that be came up with a more reliable and 21st Century solution.

Another place where things can easily go wrong is hospital car parks – these are also nerve-wracking places where people have a load on their mind and the last thing they want to worry about is where and how they pay for their parking. Guessing the duration of the visit is the first hurdle because some hospitals give the first hour [or two] free but charge progressively for a longer stay. And hospital parking supervisors seem more than usually obsessed with every vehicle being perfectly parked within the marked spaces which, in the interests of cramming in more cars, are laid out to smaller dimensions than public highway spaces. There are massive financial surpluses made from hospital parking due to users’ tendency to buy excess parking time “so as to be on the safe side” and to the management’s rigorous enforcement of contraventions [usually accompanied by some patronising justification for their endeavours].

Perhaps it would be useful to build in a parking ticket holder into all new cars. That would be more useful than some of the gimmicks, such as footwell lights. Having said that, I was once alerted to the fact that I was setting off to a meeting wearing different coloured socks. 🙂

Different socks was once the height of fashion. I think these days you should now be wearing a different shoe on each foot. Or has that fad been overtaken?
Charging for cancelling a parking charge that has been paid correctly, but inadvertantly not displayed, should be outlawed. Nor do I see why a parking penalty dispenser (enforcement officer or whatever) should not be given the ability to cancel a penalty notice when the parking has been correctly paid for but failed on a technicality. It is high time we adopted a sensible and understanding attitude towards our fellows, rather than assuming they are all rogues or, as we seem to, take every opportunity we can to take money from them, with no real means to combat it.
We bought a house for a vulnerable member of the family and assumed the first request for council tax would come to us, as the owners. It wasn’t sent to us for payment. Instead it went to the family member; holidays at the time meant it wasn’t seen, nor therefore paid, by the due date. A significant penalty charge was imposed, despite explaining the circumstances. I felt aggrieved – partly at having to part with money.,admittedly, but also because of what I felt was an unpreparedness to understand a situation – just a culture of extracting money.

That seems like another example of the overweening abuse of authority by a public body. I understand that, in law, the council tax is due in full on demand unless one of the permitted methods of payment by instalments has been approved in advance. However, for a local authority to pursue that line in circumstances such as you have described appears to me to contain a punitive streak for which there is no justification. A residential property is a fixture – it cannot just walk away and councils have extremely high recovery rates for their council tax showing that evasion is not a major problem. They have better means than most creditors open to them to ultimately recover debts so there is absolutely no need for them to agrressively surcharge people who are not refusing to pay but who got caught out by unfortunate timing. I think an appeal to the local government ombudsman would have been worth while in that case. Because of the mistakes and bad decisions made by local authorities and their contractors it has been necessary to set up a colossal independent appeal mechanism for parking penalties and it has been found that (a) many councils will not defend their decisions on appeal so the penalty charges are cancelled, and (b) many drivers have their appeals upheld even when the local authority does seek to justify their decision; generally the driver is given the benefit of any doubt. So far as I know costs are not awarded to drivers who win their appeals [but the process is cheap] and if any amount is paid towards the penalty [to secure an early payment discount, for example] the right of appeal is forfeited so there is an element of chance involved.

Abigail says:
15 August 2014

Has anyone successfully appealed against a ticket received for paying by cashless app and putting the wrong number plate into the system? I downloaded the Pay by Phone app but mistyped my number plate, reversing 2 digits by mistake. I parked and paid by phone but got a ticket because my correct number plate of course didn’t register. I have appealed online but received a letter saying this appeal had been rejected as “the onus is on the driver to confirm vehicle details”. I do understand this, but it was a genuine mistake on my part. No car exists with the number plate I had registered and I still paid the appropriate parking fee so I have not parked without payment of the parking charge as such. In other words, I haven’t tried to get away with not paying. Do you think it’s worth fighting?

That’s rotten luck, though if I had made that mistake I would have paid up and not let anyone know about my mistake. 🙂

I’ve occasionally put the number of my previous car in the visitors’ book when attending meetings at council offices but at least there is no financial penalty involved.

Abigail says:
15 August 2014

Cheers, wavechange, I think… I’ve decided to fight it anyway and will post what happens!

Best of luck, Abigail. It’s always good to get feedback.

Abigail says:
15 August 2014

Anyway, my trump card is, that if they won’t be generous over a simple mistake, I shan’t let them off the appalling spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors in their letter!

I’ll bet you wish that the letter said that “… your statutory rights are not effected.” 🙂

It’s a while since I last saw that unfortunate mistake.

Abigail says:
15 August 2014

Only thing worse could be ‘you’re statutory rights…’! No, this did have a good example of very poor use of the semi-colon. It’s all ammunition!

Abigail, I’m sure a lot of people type data into their mobile phones incorrectly and if you are too quick in sending it, without reviewing it, fall into this trap. Just like making errors in emails and these conversation entries

If this were a local authority car park then I believe they should understand the simple mistake and cancel your ticket. I’d plug away at them; I don’t hold with simple errors being used by public bodies to create revenue.

If it were a private car park then they are often morally less beholden to us and use any method available to cash in. Try first appealing to their better nature. Failing that, if they are a member of the British Parking Association they have a code of conduct to abide by.


A clause that may be of use regards the penalty charge. Having paid them for your parking, I do not see how they can claim that again, so any penalty should reflect their administration charges; I suggest you ask them to justify any charge since this is supposed only to reflect their loss:

“19.5 If the parking charge that the driver is being asked to pay is for a breach of contract or act of trespass, this charge must be based on the genuine pre-estimate of loss that you suffer. We would not expect this amount to be more than £100. If the charge is more than this, operators must be able to justify the amount in advance.”

Abigail says:
15 August 2014

Thank you, Malcolm, that’s all really helpful and makes perfect sense from my, rather biased, point of view. Let’s hope it convinces the world of ‘jobsworth’ too!