/ Motoring

Parking fines: your questions answered

Have you ever had a Parking Charge Notice (PCN) that you felt was unfair? Do you know how to challenge or appeal it? We’ve rounded up and answered your questions.

Every month, thousands turn to Google to find answers on how to challenge or appeal a Parking Charge Notice (issued by a private company) or a Penalty Charge Notice (issued by a local authority).

But regardless of which type of fine they get, many come to Which? Conversation to air their frustrations or to seek advice.

And what’s more, we know the majority of council-issued PCN appeals are actually successful.

Which? Consumer Rights: Parking tickets

More than 8.6 million PCNs were issued in England (excluding London) and Wales for parking, bus lane contraventions and the Dartford Crossing charge in 2016/2017, according to the most recent stats from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.

And while a miniscule 0.43% were appealed, 57% of those were successful.

That means you may want to challenge any PCN you get which you think was wrongly issued or is unfair.

Your PCN queries answered

More than three years ago we published Barry Beavis’s account of why he decided to fight a £85 PCN in court.

Mr Beavis’s gripe was with a charge issued for parking on private land at a retail park. He argued the £85 fine was not a genuine reflection on the company’s loss by his overstaying.

He may have lost in the County Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, but the post attracted more than 1100 comments from people applauding Mr Beavis’s efforts and seeking advice for their own PCN woes.

Here are some of the common complaints and reasons why you might appeal.

If you’re in Scotland or Northern Ireland, the rules are a little different so you’ll need to look up your local rules for appealing.

‘I paid for parking but accidentally put in the wrong registration number’

This is unfortunate and a very frustrating situation, but could have good grounds for an appeal if you can prove you paid (with your bank card statement) and a picture of your car’s actual registration.

When you pay for parking on private land, the contract is with you and the private parking company or landowner. So if you can prove you have not breached the contract on your end, your appeal may well be successful.

You can use our parking appeals tool to write a bespoke letter for free to help get you started.

But remember, challenging the ticket doesn’t extend the 14 day limit for paying a reduced charge – unless the operator agrees to extend the period, which they’re not required to do.

‘The car is mine, but I wasn’t driving it’

In cases where you receive a Parking Charge Notice from a landowner or private parking company, you can appeal the notice on the grounds that you weren’t responsible for the car when it was parked.

You can contact the company which has issued the fine and give them the full name and address of the person who was responsible for the car at the time.

Be sure to keep any emails, letters or make notes of the conversation if you opt to call. The company must cancel the parking ticket against you and send it to the other person. This is known as ‘transfer of liability’.

But if the person was a friend, family member or loved one you can opt to pay the fine instead of appealing and follow it up with them yourself.

You can also appeal a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice if the car was stolen at the time the PCN was issued.

‘I bought a car and got sent a PCN for the previous owner’

In this scenario, you’re not responsible for the parking ticket and can appeal on the basis that at the time the PCN was issued, you were not the owner of the car.

Make sure you include any details you have about the previous owner, a copy of the registration certificate and evidence of when you bought the car.

‘I got a Parking Eye fine – can I challenge it?’

As with any parking ticket, you can challenge it – but whether you’re successful will depend on whether it was justified and fair (ie you actually broke the terms and conditions of the carpark).

We understand most of the successful appeals against Parking Eye are because you were a legitimate user of the land.

Before appealing, contact the business you were using and show them evidence you were a customer.

Often they will then write to Parking Eye themselves or give you a letter you can use to appeal your ticket.

For example, if you were a genuine shopper and only overstayed a short time, you may want to provide evidence of purchases (such as receipts and bank statements) and the letter from the business you were using.

Or if you were at a hotel for a conference which over-ran, you could provide evidence of your invitation and confirmation from the host that the event ran on longer than expected.

Another avenue is inadequate signage – go back to the carpark and look for signs about time limits. Are they clear? Are they visible?

Make sure you always follow the appeals procedure set out by the private company or the council. You can find this on their website or in the correspondence they’ve sent you.

Have you had any successful PCN appeals you can share? How did you do it? Or what about any unsuccessful ones? Why did you lose? Tell us below.


Hi, i’d be really grateful for any advice please. I received a PCN when I parked in a pub car park taking my mum for afternoon tea there. The pub said this was unfair and they would contact the PCN issuer to ask for it to be cancelled. I also appealed the PCN but POPLA ruled it is valid. During the appeal process the ticket went up from £60 to £100. I offered to pay the company the original £60 on the basis that I ought to be able to appeal without being penalised. They have rejected my offer and now demand I pay £170 and have threatened to take me to court. Such an upsetting experience when I was a paying customer visiting a pub with my elederly mother, do I have to pay their demand?

Go back to the pub taking the demand letter – at a nice busy time when they have plenty of customers who he wouldn’t want to overhear about his broken promise – and remind them quite loudly of their undertaking. I hope you have a receipt – or credit card statement showing your patronage on the day

You can safely ignore ANYTHING from the parking sharks or their debt collectors from now on unless they send you a paper headed “Letter before claim” or “Letter before action”. From my first and second hand knowledge of this, it is probable that the bluff and bluster correspondence will continue for some time to come before abruptly ceasing. However, it should all stop if the landlord practices what he’s preached.

Roshelle Evans says:
18 December 2019

I have today December 2019 received a parking charge notice dates 31/10/2015. 4 years later.
We never received any PCN not that my memory. An recall anyway as I know how these fines can escalate. Which it now has to £179 surely I can contest this due to the number of years past it has been.

I too have received two letters from DCBL, with their logo of cant pay take it away featured at the bottom of their letter. One letter was for a parking fine 5 years and 7 months ago, and the other was for 4 years ago, asking for £160.00, so I phoned them up, I was no 71 in the que, just under an hour later someone finally answered, I explained that I would have appealed the charge at the time, and since nothing was heard back from the company, did not keep a copy, not that you would surely be expected to, even HMRC only go back 6 years. I was told to send off my objections to them, and they would pass it onto the parking operator, but would recieve two more letters from them in Jan 2020, which I did on the 13th, these letters both stated that I had failed to respond to them, and as such would inform the parking operator of such. Again I phoned, yippee only 64 people in front of me today, 45 long minutes later, I am told that I only talked about one letter in my previous conversation, and so had not responded to the other letter, and the reason they had not acknowledged my letter in December is because they were off for a week, and so a large back log had built up.
I asked for an immediate acknowledgement of my phone calls, which they could do by e-mail, and a reply to my letter, both of which were refused. I also asked for a copy of the recorded telephone conversations made, and that was refused as well.
If enough of us have these parking fines from 2, 3, 4, 5, or more years ago, can we and together and perhaps see if we can get the BBC watchdog programme involved, as I am sure they would love to bash DCBL the cant pay we’ll take it away people.
I did ask why when watching the tv programme and their bailiffs phone the office, we never see them complain about being number 60+ in the que.

i was sat in my car just over the disabled lines the warden came to my window and said im issuing you with a parking ticket as you are over the white line she had taken photos i drove off.this happened today 9-30am 21/12 2019 but i have not got a ticket.how do i stand with no ticket.

Ernest, if you don’t feature on the next issue of Crimewatch then you might receive a ticket through the post. But I’m sure we’re all hoping that you swift getaway will have saved you this time.

thank you Derek for your reply. But I am computer illeritate how would I know ore find out about crimewatch,when you say a swift getaway will have saved me time,what dose that mean,regarbs ern.

Eleanor says:
21 December 2019

I got a UKPC ticket today as well because I parked in a place marked as Disabled. But when I drive in the space, I didn’t not see the sign on the ground because of the reflection of the strong sunlight on the wet ground. I was in a shop for 10 minutes and got £100 ticket. A happy Christmas shopping turned into a very stressful experience. We are as consumers paying the shops and UKPC has turned a lot of shopping centres as their money making machines and we have to suffer all the stress. Are they legal to do so?

I almost did something similar a while back. There were some faint marks on the ground (street parking) but it was impossible to decide if they had been obscured or just worn off.

Luckily there was a traffic warden close by so I asked if it was OK to park or not. He said it was not OK and the markings caught out a lot of drivers as he had to issue them a ticket. He also said that the council knew about the markings and cancelled parking tickets when asked.

You probably won’t get anywhere with UKPC, but if the markings are not clear you might have grounds to appeal.

Can someone please advice me. So basically I was issued a PCN by the parking attendant who is employed by the council. My question is, is there a clear guideline of where the parking attendant should be positioned/standing when issuing me a PCN. For example, when I pulled in to a parking bay, the parking attendant had seen me from a very far distance then was almost hiding behind a tree timing me 5 mins, then only when the PCN was printed on his device he started walking towards my car to slap it on my car window. This is very cunning way of issuing tickets. There must be a rule while issuing tickets, i.e standing no more than 1 meter from the car and making yourself visible.

Not sure about “where to stand”, but there are guidelines on grace periods, and 10 minutes I believe is the minimum. The attendant needs to record the (two times he observed you car, and these timings should be (I think) 10 minutes or more apart. I presume this was a pay-and-display car park. Did you buy a ticket at your earliest opportunity? If so you have excellent grounds for appeal.

It used to be the case that parking attendants had to make notes to support the issue of every PCN to demonstrate that they were close to the location of the contravention. This might include the tyre inflation valve positions [in clockface form], tax disc expiry details, and any distinctive features of the vehicle. I expect this requirement has been considerably weakened [especially since tax discs are no longer displayed] but I feel it would be worth challenging the issue of a parking ticket if it relies on compliance with line markings or parking bay limits.

In Aron’s case the contravention was probably obvious enough to the parking attendant, and is not disputed by Aron, but he no doubt feels aggrieved that the PA was operating in a rather stealthy manner and allowing him to park in a wrong place while waiting for the grace period to elapse before emerging and issuing a pre-prepared ticket. This is dishonourable behaviour and should be the subject of a complaint if not an appeal. It is bordering on entrapment.


The grace period usually applies of you’ve paid for your parking and arrived back a few minutes late.

What is not clear here is why Aron did not pay in the first place, apparently knowing there was a parking attendant present. If you have no intention of paying for parking and are caught then you should expect the possibility of a penalty. Maybe Aron had a reason.

However what we need is a movement to abolish the excessive penalties that councils and private companies impose for relatively minor offences. They make around £1.5 billion a year between them, far more than we lose in bank transfer fraud.

“The grace period usually applies of you’ve paid for your parking and arrived back a few minutes late.”
It also applies at the front – to give you time to park up safely and peruse the terms and conditions on the signs to decide if you want to stay or not.

For the people who is going to appeal with POPLA:
Their website site may not take the video evidence. Even you ask them to contact you so that you can provide your evidence. They won’t and they will make the decision that you fail the appeal because you didn’t provide the evidence. This will result in you have to pay higher rate of the charge. This has happened to me and I had to pay £100 to UKPC which was an very unfair ticket.

POPLA is binding on the parking sharks but not the motorist. If you believe you are in the clear and your case is unjust, you can take your chance and await for them to take you to court where you can plead not guilty and give evidence personally. However, if your video was offering only mitigating circumstances then you were likely wise to cut and run at that point. POPLA consider only points of law not mitigating circumstances.

I hoped POPLA can give me the justice. But they failed me because their website failed with error page when I uploaded the video evidence. I asked them to provide an email address so that I can send the evidence. But they did not and told me it’s my fault by not providing the evidence which I have no way to do so. In order to avoid further harassment and keep myself in good mental health state. I made £100 payment already. I felt hopeless in this situation.

michael mcenhill. says:
26 December 2019

only a few months have passed since they installed notices in Bushey Grove swimming pool grounds.
I have to say that a long time beforehand the parking was free. When I attended the swimmiing pool I was unaware of the time I spent swimming and was at fault in returning to car beyond allowed time.
It seems hardly an excuse but the fact that they signs were quite recently installed did not fully register in my mind at time so am wondering if ishould simply opt for the £60 earlier penalty or go the whole hog and plead my case against a higher likely incurred £100 fine in this my first instance.

If there were signs on display detailing the parking restrictions my suggestion would be to pay at the reduced rate while you can. I doubt there will be any favourable consideration of an appeal.

It just might be worth having a word with the staff at the pool to see if they can pull any strings before coughing up.

I have received a ticket for parking on my own land which fronts our property. This property is on an unadopted road. I was parked on land which we paid to pave at a cost of £5000 .

The land is adjacent to land which we also own ( it fronts our property) but which the council are operating a permit parking scheme on (against our wishes) as they say despite our ownership (which they don’t dispute as they have seen our deeds)they say it is designated as a ‘highway’ and as such, they do not need our permission to mark out permit parking bays.

The ticket was issued when I was parked on the privately owned paved section of our frontage, I was not in a permit bay.

I have appealed but I wanted some advice as to how to take it further if the appeal is rejected.

If the council has not adopted the piece of land as public highway I do not see how it can regulate parking on it and operate a permit scheme. Surely, until the land is adopted as public highway, it remains under the ownership and control of the frontagers. If the land is not adopted, the council is not responsible for its maintenance, lighting, kerbing, drainage, or cleansing and this should be reflected in the rateable values of the frontaging properties and the council tax payable. I believe it would be worth getting a legal opinion on the situation with a view to challenging the council’s action.

Thanks John, I was wondering along similar lines. I agree that good legal advice may be needed here, as the law can be quite awkward in these areas.

I believe (but may be wrong) if the council adopt a road, they have to install pavements and street lights a cost they would rather not undertake.

Many unadopted roads are owned by residents – we own up to the centre of our unadopted road. Depending on when deeds were drawn up, all properties might not have the same ownership so it may be worth looking at the deeds of all properties in the vicinity if fighting the council. The type or usage of the road might have some bearing here, but it does seem rather heavy-handed of the council.

Our council won’t give a reduction in council tax for not supplying adopted road services. Legal advice would seem the best route.

Normally, the local highway authority will not adopt a private road until it has been made fit for use as a public highway, including the provision of a suitable foundation and surface, pavements and kerbs, street lighting, and drains. On new estates the developers tend to complete all this work to a reasonable standard to make the new homes saleable long before the council takes over the maintenance responsibility.

At our previous house the process took over three years from the first property sale but the developers had constructed the roads to a satisfactory condition and some of the hold-ups were due to arguments about landscaping and minor details not being in conformity with the planning consent.

As soon as the council took over the highways, 20 mph speed limits were imposed and restrictions on parking at some corners. At least the drains were unblocked of building materials before the take-over. There was no change in the council tax payable between being private roads and public highways and I have no idea how the developers settled the finances with the local authority.

I have had the feeling all along that there is some missing information in this case.

hilary newton says:
30 December 2019

My experience of London tribunals is that it is prone to admin errors and can fail to pass relevant documents (emailed as attachments as requested by the adjudicator) to the adjudicator so the adjudicator decides you’ve not provided them (even though they were human-acknowledged!) and, if they supported a witness statement, rules that you’ve failed to comply with ‘procedure’ and there is no right of appeal – only to seek judicial review in high court! (subsequent reviews by LT adjudicators look no further than the reasonableness of the first one’s decision – completely ignoring that you have demonstrated that the required docs were provided in a timely manner.) …. to add insult, LT even replied to my subsequent FOI request confirming the attachments to my acknowledged email but STILL wouldn’t address the original error. This means my formal reps were never considered by LT or anyone else and I’ve never had the opportunity to attend a hearing or appeal. …seems like a black hole to me…any pressure groups out there who might want to help me get judicial review sorted?? (it’s an open and shut case if TFL/LT can be forced to address their own inconsistencies/self contradictory statements and simple admin errors. regards

Charlie says:
3 January 2020

Hello, I’m wondering if someone could offer any advice regarding the parking eye ticket I have received?
Because I’m a named driver and my partner, who works offshore for a month at a time, is the legal owner I missed the ticket arriving as it was addressed to him. Now I’m well passed the required payment time (21/12/19) so if payed I will have to pay the higher charge 😔
I’m aware that I could appeal the higher charge due to him working away but the real problem is that the picture provided of my arrival is mainly black with a very faint image of my number plate in the top right hand corner of image. No landmarks present or anything that shows where it was taken. Can I have this quashed on these grounds?! Ever hopeful and fingers crossed!
P. S. Its worth noting I don’t understand why I would have been in an ALDI car park for almost 3 hours but have no receipts etc to prove otherwise 😔
If you’ve got this far and have any experience of these matters I’d really appreciate your help.
Kind regards,

Is there a time-frame during which local councils are obliged to send out notices?
I appealed a ticket (via the council website) a few days after it was issued in early November and haven’t heard a squeak from them since – no rejection of the appeal – nothing to say that it is cancelled – no Notice-to-owner – nothing.

If the council fails to respond in a timely fashion, does the ticket validity expire?

This is part of what this website says. Perhaps Which? could tell us if it is correct?

“Your first step should be to make an informal challenge. Write to the council — quoting the PCN reference number — and explain why you think you shouldn’t have to pay.

Include any evidence such as photographs of parking signs, copies of your permit or ticket and witness statements.

Make copies and don’t send the originals, as you may need them later in the process.

Your claim will be reviewed by the council or the private firm hired to issue tickets. If you are rejected you can pay or challenge the fine formally.

Most councils offer a 50 per cent discount if you pay within two weeks of receiving your rejection letter. This is your last chance for a discount.

If you want to appeal further, wait for a Notice to Owner letter to arrive. Councils will send this 28 days after responding to your informal challenge.

Once issued, you have 28 days to make a formal representation. This involves resending all your evidence and explaining your argument again.

If you are sent a parking ticket through the post because you were caught on CCTV, you jump straight to this stage.

You also have 21 days to pay the fine at the reduced rate instead of just 14.

The council has 56 days to investigate and respond. If it fails to do so, you win by default. If it throws out your appeal you’ll be sent a Notice of Rejection.

Same here I hope the below is correct – currently on 51 days!

Good news for those who get their registration number incorrect when parking. Members of the BPA will no longer impose a penalty if you get one digit wrong and if you get two wrong there will be an administration fee of £20.

I hope at some point other penalties will also be reduced to £20 – or call it an administration fee if you like.


I’ve suggested many times that no-one should receive a fine for making a trivial mistake.

I wonder if Which? made any representations to achieve this change, and whether they are pursuing the other concern many have – extortionate penalties for mainly relatively trivial offences?

The industry makes around £1.5 billion (thousand million) through the penalty route. Many penalties are no doubt justified to properly control parking, but I do not consider extortion to be the way to do it. £20 would seem to me to be generally an appropriate penalty or fine.

Hello, I received a charge notice for an NCP railway station car park. I had erroneously parked within a restricted area, but was mislead by signage connected with redevelopment /building work in the car park, approximately 25-30% of spaces had been lost because of it.
I purchased a £7 day ticket via the Dash parking app.
A few weeks later I recieved the PCN stating I was within a restricted area, I appealed via the NCP website, and questioned why it had been issued, also including the the purchased ticket details. I also asked why the £7 had not been taken into account or the amended restrictions. A further email was received restating I had been in a restricted zone. I had admitted my mistake, but wished the £7 already paid in good faith to be taken into consideration. I heard nothing more until a collection agency letter arrived over the Christmas period.
I have now been told any futher appeal period has elapsed.
The way NCP has acted is just arrogant and lazy on their part, and I now have a Debt Agency letter demanding £135, and actually speaking to at NCP is impossible…
Any ideas as to how progress this, I have been prepared to pay the initial £60 fine minus £7.. I do not believe I am I being unreasonable.

Ian Gasper says:
9 January 2020

I too am refusing to pay a Britannia charge which I definitely paid but may have made an error with my number plate. They give you no information about this. They are allowing an extension but having taken legal advice (brother) I am prepared to let them take me to court. It is Small Claims and the most I could loose would be the £100 fine but they will have wasted a lot more.
I am told to argue they are being ‘unreasonable’.

Having made that decision, Ian G, whatever else you do ignore all interim correspondence from Britannia’s goons until there is one entitled “Letter before claim” or an actual court summons, when the time will be to submit the defence. It is worth constructing that and collecting evidence sooner rather than later, including digitally scanning any thermally printed tickets which could fade by the time this gets around to a hearing.

leslie mason says:
13 January 2020

sold my vehicle on 04/12/19 did not give receipt or copy buyers details sent v5c off on the 10/12/19 received parking ticket from manchester council that on the 05/12//10 had park illegally at the time of offence i was in crewe after giving this info to council they refused to cancel it so obtained a letter from dvla which states that from the 04/12/19 i was not the owner of vehicle they refused again and now with the independent option am very unhappy with the way i have been treated .

I’m at a loss on this one, I’ve looked everywhere to see if this has happened to anyone else but found nothing. I have received two parking charge notices within a couple of days of each other, photos apparently show my car and registration details . . . I say apparently because my car wasn’t even at these places at these times, the first I received from smart parking saying I was in West Bromwich (which is approx 3 and a half hours from where I live) and the second was from ncp stating that I was in Wolverhampton (which again I wasn’t !!) I live in east London by the way. I have CCTV outside my house so I’m hoping that when I look back I can find the exact times that my car was parked in the drive, both tickets were approx 8weeks after I have a caesarean with twins so I certainly wouldn’t have been driving 3 and a half hours to do what they said was approx half hour shopping trip!!! I’m stumped, I have no idea what I should do about this one.

I suggest you respond to the notices with your explanation and request they make no further claims on you otherwise you will regard them as harassment. I presume someone may have cloned your registration on a similar car; this should be reported to the police and DVLA with the location in which it was photographed.

Charlotte Campbell says:
14 January 2020

Hello 😊
To me it sounds like your numberplate has been cloned and probably worth contacting the police. 😔

Reese says:
14 January 2020

I received a parking ticket for £100 where the hourly rate after the free period is £1. I was 14 minutes over the free period (that’s £400/hour).
The parking is around a swimming pool that neither I nor any of my swim colleagues had realised was private and paying, but all assumed it was part of the pool.
The ‘Parking Charge Notice’ came in the post.with no letterhead, or no issuer. And unsigned. The only mention of a company is in the payment details (so basically a page that says you have been issued a fine with a demand for payment. Pay this amount before this date to this company account).
The creditor is CIVIL ENFORCEMENT LTD, which sounds like a government agency but is based is ‘Civil Enforcement Ltd, Horton House, Exchange Flags, Liverpool, L2 3PF’. The payment URL they provide leads to a website that is made to look like an official civil government one but of course is not, and the FAQ links do not work so there is very little information on the site.
A follow up RED letter (FINAL REMENDER BEFORE LEGAL ACTION), again with no issuer, threatens debt collection, court proceedings, and ruining my credit rating. Neither of these letters are signed.
This feels like extortion.
The pool site says you would receive a Penalty Charge Notice from a company called Creative
Is this legal in the UK. And is this enforceable?
Many thanks

I’d check whether the car park is properly signed to show the free period and the charges. If it is, then a penalty is in order.

The penalty is extortionate, in common with others, and we should put a stop to it.

Adam says:
15 January 2020

I’ve received, out of the blue, multiple letters from a company called DCBL, stating that I haven’t paid CP Plus Ltd and that it had now been passed for them for collection.

Both the ‘contraventions’ relate to 2015!!! Surely this is well out of date???

I have also receive delivery the same today relating to 2014. I never received a parking fine and not sure what’s to do.

andrew ovens says:
21 January 2020

I have recently been contacted by a collection agency about a ticket from 2015 which i have no recollection of or have had any recent correspondence about. I have sent 2 recorded delivery letters to them asking for e mail contact to explain their action as the contact centre is uncontactable i e today i was 24 in the queue!.Is there a limitation on how long they can enforce this for and can i get independent redress as the won t even communicate with me to clarify what happened, can i calim for my time and distress?

mr frank connolly says:
21 January 2020

app said north middx hospital the app I used said north middx hospital off street parking but pcn says north middx hospital grounds misleading