/ 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.


I have an order of recovery for an unpaid parking penalty charge. Its states I either appeal or MUST pay it in full in one payment. Is this against my rights. I’m offering to pay it over two months.

I don’t think there is generally any provision to pay by instalments. You could ask the claimant and hope they might show goodwill.

Ann Fravigar says:
27 January 2020

Is our judicial system now endorsing the scam that is the private parking companies demanding exrortionate ‘fines’ even when genuine mitigating circumstances are explained to them?

It’s not the judicial system that’s at fault but the basic legislation covering the enforcement of parking restrictions on private land. It’s become nothing more than a money-making racket.

In November 2015 “The Supreme Court agreed with Parking Eye that the £85 charge Barry received for overstaying by 56 minutes was justified as it discouraged people from overstaying at a site close to a railway station and law courts.” . This seemed to shut the door on challenging parking penalties, both private and public, both of which are extortionate relative to the offence, in my view.

So I would suggest the judicial system is at fault in missing an opportunity to seek legislation for a fairer system. However, I would suggest the Barry Beavis case was perhaps not the best example; from recollection it was a deliberate flouting of the parking rules displayed.

I do wonder why Which? continue to avoid campaigning for a change in the law to restrict parking penalties to more acceptable levels. They have repeatedly said they are not interested, but never properly explained why.

John is correct – the legislation is seriously flawed. It enshrines serious conflicts of interest – the people who make the rules also enforce the rules and collect the penalties from motorists who (often unintentionally) break the rules . I gather that in some cases parking companies pay the landowner for the right to enforce on their land – so they have to collect penalties in excess of this payment. There is no incentive to set fair rules, to enforce them fairly or to set sensible penalties (Malcolm is right about this). There is every incentive to set unrealistic regulations, enforce rigorously and penalise excessively.

As far as the Beavis case is concerned I suggest it could be argued (in court) that this was confined to its own facts – a deliberate flouting of rules in a car park close to an area of high demand. Many overstay penalties are issued in areas of low demand where overstaying motorists are not harming anyone – so £85 should not be justified.

I would like to see far more pay on exit and much less pay and display – this applies to local authority parking as well. Why impose penalties where pay on exit is perfectly feasible? Unless the prime motivation is the generation of profit rather than the reasonable control of parking.

I would like to see more pay on exit car parks, especially at hospitals where it is difficult to know how long you will wait, e.g. for an outpatient appointment. Obviously this is not practical with most on-steet parking.

Many car parks lend themselves to barriered entrance/exits where you would pay at a machine to obtain an exit ticket or against your number plate. It takes away the main gripes about being caught out, including a maximum stay limit where the penalty would be payable before you leave. Let’s hope regulation would ensure sensible penalties would be applied.

I had friends visit at the weekend and the first question was whether I had been charged for returning to a camera-controlled park within an hour, contrary to the rules, which I did at their previous visit. I had not been charged and I hope that this might be because that’s the first mistake I have made in many visits. With camera-controlled car parks and ones where you enter your registration the data are stored on computer, making it easy to distinguish between the occasional small infringement and those who regularly overstay or break other parking conditions.

For an occasional minor infringement the only sensible solution is to waive the penalty.

I doubt you will have been let off.

I’m not in favour of waiving penalties for so-called first offences. Often it will be a first time caught. How many times have drivers been over the speed limit and not been penalised – then the first time it happens they might feel aggrieved?

We need to control parking (while we still have cars 🙁 ) and breaking the rules for whatever reason both reduces legitimate revenue and can inconvenience others who wish to park, But the penalties for infringements are what we should be addressing to make them an acceptable deterrent and not the £1.5 bn industry it has become.

With a camera-controlled car park it’s very easy to distinguish between the occasional small infringement and those who repeatedly break the rules.

Average speed cameras allow minor infringements but not continued speeding.

I suspect there is little – if any – human supervision of the issue of parking tickets where the entry and exits of vehicles is caught on camera; the penalty process is virtually automatic.

The enforcement of parking on private land does not just concern extortionate fines for marginal overstaying beyond the permitted period but for encroaching beyond a marked bay, one digit wrong on the VRM entered in the pay machine, going in and coming out again without staying, dismissing valid challenges and appeals, refusing to act reasonably on appeals and accept settlements, and many other irritating issues. The use of cameras and automatic systems has allowed the system to become heavily weighted in favour of the enforcement operator and not a neutral or even-handed process with the driver and the enforcers on a level playing field.

The contractual situation for private parking places contrasted with the enforcement process used by local authorities on the public highway and public car parks doesn’t help.

I think the whole private parking system is in disrepute. It is difficult to argue that the judicial system is at fault when it has been tested at the highest court in the land which must surely confirm that the legislative basis for it is unjust. The Supreme Court cannot change the legislation so we must hammer away at our MP’s and the government to seek an end to the injustice, the inequality between two regimes that are supposed to have the same purpose, and the lack of proportionality in the penalties.

we must hammer away at our MP’s and the government to seek an end to the injustice“. As we should with any significant consumer problem. We need an organisation that we can use to do this for us. Once upon a time, I wonder if the AA and RAC, in their original guises, would have been doing this for motorists.

Yes, Malcolm, I am sure that the AA and the RAC would have campaigned and lobbied for a fairer process, but that was when they were membership organisations representing their members whereas today they are commercial breakdown and special signage services with hotel classification schemes attached. They do seem to speak out on road safety issues from time to time and on the levels of petrol duty, but parking seems to have escaped their attention.

They could have set up a paid-for advisory and appeals service to assist people who experience the sort of problems that are frequently raised here. Which? does not seem to be of much direct help and leaves it mostly to other readers of Which? Conversation to answer people’s questions. It would be useful if the Q &A’s were collated and available on-line or published as a supplement.

Parking gives rise to a significant amount of stress, starting with the search for a space, and the introduction of the current enforcement system for parking on private land has heightened the stress; at least it got rid of clamping – which was time-consuming and expensive for the landowners – but the number of parking charge notices must have increased enormously with concomitant aggravation and distress for those treated unfairly. There is a complete lack of trust in the appeals services for private land parking that are not perceived to be independent or fair so people are paying bad fines just to avoid the hassle.

Whole TV series are now devoted to parking issues and confrontations but they are just for sensational purposes to sell airtime for adverts.

Jonathan Wilson says:
29 January 2020

I have received an NCP notice for £100 for being 30 mins late leaving on a pre pay car park following a meeting that ran over.

£100!! that is crazy

It is crazy but, as it is so easy to be wise after the event, buying extra time just in case (if that were possible) would have been a precaution. No doubt that applies to many overstayers. My local council car park is 50p for 30 mins, 70p for 1 hour. Rather than worry about a penalty I always buy an hour unless the visit is very fleeting – you never know how you might be delayed, distracted, or meet someone to chat to.

What is crazy is the disproportionate size of the penalty. We should campaign to have that changed. Would you see £20 as fair in your case – clearly your fault?

I am hoping I don’t get a fine for parking for 3 minutes in a near empty car park 15 minutes before it was free anyway. It is a long-stay car park so extortionate to pay for all day parking. There are maybe 6 spaces that are free for 30 minutes, but they are tiny and always full.

Fingers crossed, Alfa.


Pay on exit car parks provide a fair way of charging for parking and help protect users from parking fees. These are not practical in some locations such as street parking. Where parking is paid for by card or phone it would still be possible to pay on departure, so that you pay for what you use. That could have helped Jonathan Wilson and everyone who is not certain how long it will be before they return to their car.

Many of us pay for more parking time than we need to avoid fines.

The sick part is that all those extra payments for unused time would probably easily cover the admin for issuing fines.

Yes. In the days before camera-controlled car parks I used to pass on parking tickets with unused time and a couple of times I benefited from tickets bought by others. 🙂

I doubt that there is much incentive to introduce payment for what you use when there is money to be made from those who play it safe by paying for more time than they need.

Paying on departure without a barrier would presumably require ANPR, something no longer allowed in council car parks but still allowed in private ones I believe. Seems perverse.

I think paying for sufficient time to cover your stay is sensible. As charges go in time bands we would no doubt still see complaints from those who just slip into a higher band. I’d still prefer to pay after a stay has finished so I don’t have to worry about being late back.

What would be wrong with keying in you registration and inserting your card on arrival, then putting the same card in the machine just before departure? If you forgot you would be charged for the maximum period allowed.

The vultures wouldn’t be able to rip you off?

Nothing wrong with that, wavechange, except there would be no evidence of your departure time. So I could register at the machine. pay an hour later and leave when I liked. So I suggest ANPR is needed to monitor proper use.

“Forgetting” is just like being late back, for which penalties are payable, not just the time you should have paid for. Applying some penalty for a contravention of the parking rules has not been widely disputed; the size of the penalty has.

I’d like to see the vultures wings clipped alfa. A pity, in my view, Which? does not see this as an unfair treatment of consumers to add to the top of the list, or properly explain why they take no action. Pursuing online fraud relentlessly is commendable. Parking penalties amount to 2 or 3 times the revenue from APP fraud. I think consumers deserve help.

ANPR is normally used at the entrance/exit to car parks and would probably not be practical to have enough cameras for monitoring on-street parking. I wonder how many people would fiddle the system as you have suggested.

On-street parking is a separate problem to monitor. It seems enforcement officers are likely to stay for some time yet.

Charging systems need to be robust and seen to be so. It would be nice to run them on an “honesty” basis. I have no way of knowing “how many people would fiddle the system”. Or how many would pay the extra time they might have overstayed – would that be a nice change to introduce rather than penalising us?

We overstayed a 3 hour free car park by 11 minutes whilst Christmas shopping. It was a BPA member who recommended a minimum 10 minute grace period so £100 for 1 minutes parking is ridiculous and extortionate. We spent over £100 in the shops and were prevented from exiting by other cars parking. There were still spaces so we did not deny other persons a parking spot.
Appealing to POPLA and if that fails will wait to see what a court say.

Hi, just a question.
The address on my PCN is incorrect by either by a spelling mistake or misinformation somewhere, its obviously close enough to the correct address that it’s found its way here but I’m just wondering as I’ve previously heard that any incorrect information can have an effect on the validity of the notice..?
Might be clutching at straws but worth a try..??

I wouldn’t chance it. The PCN reached you so if you ignore it, follow-up demands will be sent with the same address and will probably reach you. You could ignore those too but the amount of the penalty will keep increasing. If you write in to challenge the PCN that will confirm that you received it. Eventually a recovery process will be set in train and an agent will find you at the given address.

The sort of incorrect information that can lead to cancellation of a PCN includes wrong identification of the contravention, wrong description of the vehicle and/or registration number, wrong location of contravention, wrong time or date, and completely wrong name and/or address of vehicle keeper.

It would be in your interests to check that the DVLA has your correct name and address.

I was issued a penalty ticket while trying to purchase my ticket for the coin machine at the car park next to Morrissons in Wimbledon. It was dark, the car park was not properly lit up, and I spent time trying to find which machine took coins and which didn’t. I then had to ask around for coins as I did not have enough for my three hour stay. I finally bought a ticket for £4.50, and as I was about to place it on my dashboard, I noticed that a penalty ticket was already issued. The time spent prior to purchasing my ticket was just under 4 minutes. I disputed this with the council with a copy of my ticket for £4.50. They refused to waive the charge and demanded payment within two weeks, saying there is a time limit between parking and paying, but did not state what that time limit was. What shall I do. Raymond

You have the right to know what the time limit is so I suggest you write back to the council and complain that the enforcement is unfair if drivers are not aware of the time limit. I would expect you to succeed if you pursue this all the way to the appeals tribunal. The time required to pay depends on a number of factors including the distance between the vehicle and the pay machine, the number of other drivers queuing to use the machine, and the fitness of the driver to walk the distance, pay the money into the machine, and return to the vehicle. A reasonable allowance should be made for that activity and I would suggest that eight minutes would be fair. It is questionable whether your car was actually under observation for the entire time you took to make the payment and the enforcement officer might have been taking a chance. I hope you succeed.

Thanks for your reply John. You presented some very relevant points. One very important key point you suggested was if there were queues at the machine, but there wasn’t. But you know what, these attendants are cunning [removed], they play hide and seek and see everything. They watch you and part of their job is to watch your movements. Part of the report on my PCN stated that I was not seen at the machine and the machine was checked. The crucial factor in this case, which I didn’t mention in my first email, is that I had just walked out the entrance to see if there were any shops nearby to get some change, but there was none, so I walked straight back in. This only took a few seconds, but probably that’s all that was needed for the attendant to stick a ticket on. They look at it as this – Someone may just intend to drive in, pop out for a few minutes, then drive out without paying, but when they return to find that a ticket has already been issued, they then go and buy a ticket as an alibi. That’s how they probably look at it. So I suspect that’s why they refused to waive my charge even though I presented a valid ticket. Raymond

Hi Raymond,
I am presuming you are talking about the Hartfield Road Car Park.

You can walk around the car park in Google maps (image dated April 2018 so might be out-of-date). Number 4 of the conditions state you are in contravention if you Meter feed (display a subsequent ticket after the initial purchase expiry time).

Have you read Merton Parking Services Enforcement Policy?
It states If a vehicle is parked legally on a designated parking bay when it is initially parked, we will apply a 10 minute grace period before issuing a PCN from the moment it becomes parked illegally.


Page 10 Observation Periods
Page 11 Grace periods

A few years ago I flagged down a police officer when having an altercation with another driver and he asked for the CCTV in the street to be checked. There is a camera in the road just before turning into the car park that might be able to prove when you entered the car park. I can’t read the notice but it might tell you who to contact.

Their terms say “If a vehicle is parked legally on a designated parking bay when it is initially parked, we will apply a 10 minute grace period before issuing a PCN from the moment it becomes parked illegally.
This means that we will not issue a PCN until 10 minutes have passed after the expiry of a pay & display ticket or RingGo session. The grace period also applies to free parking places.”

This period is for a paid-for session I would suggest, not one yet to be paid for.

Money Saving Experts parking guide says “Nipping off for change isn’t fine
Make sure you have enough coins with you as many parking ticket machines do not accept notes or cards. Sadly, if you get a parking ticket you cannot technically appeal on the grounds you were getting change.

If Raymond took only 4 minutes I’d suggest that penalty was unfair. The Council must, I suggest, give specific grounds for it, including the legislation about time allowed between parking and paying. We’ve all parked where machines are some way from vehicles, a queue of payers, people having difficulty paying, and 4 minutes soon ticks by.

My disabled brother had a ticket for parking in a No Loading area in Bristol. The road marking were very worn, as the Council admits, but the notice (on a pole) informing drivers about it was a) not visible on his route and b) turned to face the opposite direction. It was also located in another street. He has lost his first appeal on the basis that his blue badge doesnt entitle him to park there anyway and that he ought to know from his Highway Code that he should not have been there. Any thoughts welcome, I cannot find the statutory requirement for such signs to be visible.

It is possible to challenge an appeal, Sian:

“Appeal to a tribunal

If your formal appeal’s rejected, you’ll be sent a letter called a ‘notice of rejection’. You can challenge the council’s decision at an independent tribunal. It’s free to do and you don’t have to go to the tribunal – you can submit your reasons and evidence in writing. Appeal online on the website of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (outside London) or London Tribunals (in London).

You should pay your PCN if the independent tribunal disagrees with your appeal. If you don’t pay within 28 days, the penalty will go up by another 50%. The council can then take you to court – your credit rating might be affected and you might also have to pay court costs. “https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/parking-tickets/appealing-parking-tickets/appealing-a-parking-ticket/

Photos are essential to provide evidence of the problem. Proper signs and/or road markings are essential, otherwise drivers cannot be expected to obey them.

”his blue badge doesn’t entitle him to park there anyway
This says that irrespective of the poor markings the law was contravened for other reasons.
The council must be specific on why this is otherwise he does not know what to appeal against.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-blue-badge-scheme-rights-and-responsibilities-in-england/the-blue-badge-scheme-rights-and-responsibilities-in-england gas a section on where you cannot park.
”The Blue Badge is not a licence to park anywhere. Like other road users, you must obey the rules of the road, as laid out in the Highway Code…….” and lists situations
”If you park where it would cause an obstruction or danger to other road users you could be fined or receive a Penalty Charge Notice or have your vehicle removed……

I parked my car on the street. Purchased a ticket for a 3 hour period. I placed the ticket on my dashboard, but because it was a windy day the ticket blew across the dashboard. My daughter replaced it and I closed the door.
I was issued a PCN because the ticket wasn’t displayed correctly because the ticket was facing downwards.
I appealed based on the comments above, and I also stated that they should provide a ticket that sticks to the windscreen.
My appeal was rejected. I’m about to pay but still feel grieved that they can not accept the circumstances..?

Hello all. I recently received a letter from a ‘Debt Recovery Plus’, demanding ‘payment on behalf of a creditor ‘Horizon Parking’ of £130 in relation to Parking Charge Notice on my car (I’m registered keeper). The letter says a “parking charge was issued” relating to my car at a Sainsbury’s car park in Sury Basin, Kingston upon Thames in October 2019 and there was a “Failure to pay”. The letter says ‘details were originally sent to the address provided by DVLA’. The letter does not mention a time of parking, nor provide any photos or other info.

I know the Sainsbury’s named and am *absolutely* certain that I did not park my car there on the day (I was at work, in an office London). I have since visited (by bus!) the car park to check the signage, which says there is a £70 charge for staying over 2 hours.

So I did some internet searching, discovered POPLA, and saw Horizon Parking listed as a member, so figured this is not so much a straight fraud attempt, more likely an error. I emailed Horizon Parking with a template response taken from a web forum like this one – not a shouty template, simple matter-of-fact statements that I didn’t park my car at that location at that date, had not received any PCN or other correspondence from Horizon, and asking for evidence including photos of car etc. Horizon have today replied by email; they did not provide any of the information I request, and say simply “Parking Charge Notice was issued to the driver/registered keeper, and a subsequent reminder letter was also issued”; they then direct me to contact ‘Debt Recovery Plus’ saying they “are unable to assist [me] further”. I can categorically confirm I have never received any correspondence from Horizon Parking, nor had I even heard of them, before seeing ‘Debt Recovery Plus’ letter.

Has anyone else had this happen? Any suggestions as to what I should do next?

Hi Tom, you’re right to push them for more info on the time of parking and photographic evidence.

Did you make a formal appeal with Horizon Parking? If not, I suggest doing this first, asking for the evidence listed above: https://horizonparking.co.uk/appeal-a-parking-charge-notice/

Do you have any evidence you can include too? i.e. having parked somewhere else while you were at work that day? Travel tickets to and from work? Witness statements?

If they reject your appeal, you have 28 days to make another appeal with POPLA, who may rule in your favour if there’s no concrete evidence of your car being there.

It’s also worth adding that the debt collection agency is working on behalf of the parking company, and it cannot do anything other than issue threatening letters.

Good luck – let us know what happens.

Hi Hannah,
Thank so much for replying. I have an update –

I submitted a formal appeal to Horizon Parking. They said too much time has passed since their issued the contested parking charge against my vehicle registration. Their response did not acknowledge in any way my statement that I had not received a parking charge notice letter, and had only received a letter from a debt collector.

I decided to make a separate request for information from Horizon, asking for any record of any parking charges they have raised against my vehicle registration number. I received a reply from a ‘data protection’ department asking me to confirm my name and address, and to confirm that I was the registered keeper of the vehicle whose registration I was seeking information on, which I did. They have now sent me digital copies of THREE OTHER parking charges raised against my vehicle registration number! Their records state that these other parking charges were issued in Sept, Oct and Nov 2019 respectively.

This time, however, they also included digital copies of Parking Charge Notice letters along with a reminder letter for each. The postal address on each letter is not my address. The address is my street, but the house number is different. I have lived at my address since 2018.

So, by Horizon’s own records, these notices raised against my vehicle registration number were never sent to my address. That at least would explain why I had not received any parking notice letters before I received the debt collector’s letter.

But Horizon again says that they will not accept any appeals because “As per the British Parking Association’s (BPA) Code of Practice, Point 22.7, the time to challenge the charges have expired and the matter has been passed to our debt recovery agent for collection.”

As I understand it, they are claiming that I have no option at all to appeal against any of these claimed notices, saying that too much time has passed between now and when they raised the notices, even though by their own records these notice letters were never sent to me in the first place!

Unequivocally, I did not drive my vehicle at the claimed location, date and time. Something is clearly very wrong, and I absolutely want to appeal against these tickets.

Further, if these notices had been legitimate, Horizon would in effect have been attempting to deny me any opportunity to pay any legitimate parking charge. The digital copies of the notice letters state that parking charges are £42 if paid immediately, then £70 if not; meanwhile the debt collector’s letter asks for £130.

What action do you suggest I take next?

My first thought was to reply to say I demand an appeal, or that the 28 day period for appealing should be reset or something, as Horizon failed to send me the notices. But given that I had to provide my address when requested by their data protection person, and their own letters show they didn’t send my notices there, I am assuming they know this and are simply acting in a dishonest manner.

All advice gratefully received.

I hope Hannah sees this comment and provides advice, as good as her previous post.

Presumably you have evidence that you were at work on the day in question, that your car was not used by anyone else and you have evidence correspondence was sent to the wrong address, therefore had no opportunity to contest the alleged parking. If all this is correct and the recorded car registration was the same as yours then it may well be a cloned registration and should be reported to the police.

I would write to Horizon spelling out the evidence and your action and pointing out that unless they cease action against you, you will pursue them for harassment. From what you say no civil court proceedings would succeed.

Dear Police,

I think my car registration has been cloned. Horizon parking claim I was illegally parked when I can prove I was elsewhere. They were chasing my registration at a different address before they tracked me down. They have now come up with other parking violations that I know was not me. They have the evidence but refuse to give it to me. Please investigate.

Their nearest police station is just 2 miles away:

I once bought a product from a company that offered 2 versions of a product but sent out the one people didn’t want then ignored all communication. I emailed their local police station who paid them a visit. . . .

I have appealed a private parking ticket which I received September 2019. Every month I get a letter saying that they need more time to evaluate the appeal. Since its now February 2020 is there a legal time limit on a final decision or could this gone on indefinitely?

Charlotte Campbell says:
5 February 2020

That’s bonkers!
I appealed mine from parking eye (one of the photos was barely recognisable) and they gave a clear amount of time it would take to have the appeal assessed.
It was done well within 3 weeks and fine was withdrawn.
Afraid I don’t know of legal time limits but maybe that’s something Which legal could help with? They’re very reasonably priced and you can cancel your subscription whenever you want. They inly cover certain areas of the law though.
Good luck 🤞😊

No there are no legal time limit to consider an appeal; other than the fact they have 6 years to issue a court claim.

I’ve received 3 PCN for a car park at Lidl. Each time I shopped at Lidl and try to register. I don’t know why it failles. The 2 first times my appeal have been accepted (with receipt evidence). But now for the 3rd one, it has been rejected (with receipt) because they refer to the 2 first cases.
Can I appeal such a case to ADR? I have a receipt, I tried to register on the machine at exit (but maybe a typo error?).
Thanks for your advice,


Hi Isabelle

Thank you for your message. It looks as though you have tried an internal appeal to the company, which has been unsuccessful.

The parking company should be a member of either the British Parking Association (BPA) or the Independent Parking Committee (IPC), both of which operate an appeals process that is independent of the company and you should have been directed to this, either on the original ticket or when you received the notice of rejection. You will only have a limited period of time to follow this, so do check your paperwork carefully.

The important thing to stress in your appeal is that you did all you reasonably could to follow the conditions placed on you in using the car park and that any non-compliance was not deliberate and was trivial. There is some legal authority that suggests where the breach is very minor, the parking charge should not be enforced.

If you follow the appeal process and do not succeed, the company will ultimately need to issue county court proceedings against you, to obtain a judgment before it could force payment of the debt. However consequences of a judgment include, potentially, an affected credit rating, additional costs and expense of time.

(This information is provided by Which? Legal. To join call 01174 054 854 or visit Which? Legal to find out more.)

Hi, I have received a parking charge notice from 20th April 2019. There are pictures of me entering and leaving the car park with times. However I cannot remember if I did buy a ticket or not and I am wondering if there is a time limit on sending these charges out ? thanks

As far as I can see, if you had no previous notice served on you, the following applies – perhaps Which? would comment? :
Recovery of unpaid parking charges……..
9(1)A notice which is to be relied on as a notice to keeper for the purposes of paragraph 6(1)(b) is given in accordance with this paragraph if the following requirements are met……..
(4)The notice must be given by—
(a)handing it to the keeper, or leaving it at a current address for service for the keeper, within the relevant period; or
(b)sending it by post to a current address for service for the keeper so that it is delivered to that address within the relevant period.
(5)The relevant period for the purposes of sub-paragraph (4) is the period of 14 days beginning with the day after that on which the specified period of parking ended.

ok. Thanks. To be clear this is a private company so not sure if that changes anything. Designed to confuse – says PCN but parking charge notice NOT penaltly charge notice.

Who is responsible for the accuracy of the ticket machine is it does not print all of your registration?

If the pay-&-display ticket machine requires the driver to enter their vehicle registration number then it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure they have entered it completely and correctly. Sometimes there are ‘sticky keys’ or the finger tap dos not move the key sufficiently to register the letter or digit. The screen shows the letters and numbers as they are being entered and there is a ‘clear’ or ‘cancel’ key so that any errors or omissions can be corrected.

If the machine is displaying different numbers or letters from those that are being entered, or one of the keys does not enter any letter or number, then there is a technical fault, in which case the process should be cancelled and a different machine used. If no other machine is available then it would be best to leave the car park. Ideally the car park operator should be called and informed about the problem.

If there is a problem then I would either contact the company immediately or park somewhere else. Even if you lose the parking fee it would be cheaper than a fine, and taking a photo would provide evidence of the problem so that the fee could be recovered.

I could not manage to register my arrival with Tap2Park at Hampton Court Palace since the only code on the notice was the postcode. I contacted the company and got a prompt reply. The necessary code was on a larger notice some distance away. I suggested that this was put on all the notices.

Hi I received a parking ticket from smart parking because I didn’t enter full reg plate, I went to purchase a ticket that was 50p and I put £1 in because I had no change, I put the letter M in machine and turned round to look at the plate , (forgot only had a car a couple of months on mobility ) and when I turned back to machine it send enter coins, I put £1 in and it printed ticket with only M on. I tried to ring smart parking but after over half an hour and no one Answering, I tried again when I got home, still no answer. I received a ticket and I appealed through popla, And they said I still have to pay the fine because I didn’t put full reg plate down. This is. Very quiet car park there was only 2 other cars in there, surely they can check from cameras that there was only me and maybe only one other that used the machine and narrow it down to it being me. I believe I’ve already paid why should I be fined. I’ve got my ticket still to prove I paid!! I was only in store 25 mins , driving me mad , need some advice, thanks j

It is necessary to put your full registration in for anyone to check you have paid for your car. The regulations have changed so that if you get one character wrong no penalty will apply, but missing out 6 is stretching it. Frankly, following an abortive attempt to contact the company I would have bought a correctly issued ticket. 50p more is better than a penalty.

What remains unjust are the extortionate penalties exacted for what are relatively trivial offences. Time this was put right.

I suggest you appeal, Jane. If you still have the ticket that will provide evidence that you have paid.

Multiple attempt to phone a number that can be recorded by taking a screenshot on a mobile, which might be worth remembering.

Yes but I’ve paid for the time I was there!! Why should I be forced to pay a fine it’s not like I didn’t pay. I e got my ticket to prove it

Presumably having your reg no. on your car park receipt shows that it is your car that has been paid for, and not a ticket passed on from another early departer. (In our local car park it was common to see exiting drivers offering their unexpired tickets to incoming cars). So you might know you’ve paid, but not the car park attendant or parking company. A similar scenario to a paid-for ticket not being displayed – falling on the floor, upside down or whatever.

Personally, I think once a period of parking has been purchased it should be able to be used by others until expired.

Wavechange says “If you still have the ticket that will provide evidence that you have paid.” but without a registration number (or one with one incorrect digit) it only provides evidence of payment, but not that you have made that payment for your particular vehicle. It is always worth an appeal; I think it doubtful you will be successful but maybe goodwill will prevail.

The company has no way of knowing this, Jane. The machine should have been designed to let you confirm the registration before accepting your payment. It’s ridiculous.

Malcolm – I wonder how many other tickets issued at the same time in the same car park will show the character ‘M’. It seems good enough for an appeal.

Thanks for your comments, apparently I can’t appeal now I e already appealed to popla, and they have said I have to pay , so where do I stand, this car park is very quiet, about 2-3 cars were in this car park at the time I was there, they took photographic evidence of me going in and out of the car park. Surely they know it was me! I was only there 25 mins.

It sounds like the machine didn’t let Jane enter the whole number before asking for the money so a faulty machine.

She paid to park and has a receipt showing the machine was faulty.

She will have a record of trying to contact the parking company. Would you use the same phone number if you wanted to pay?

It is definitely worth appealing. Based on the info Jane has given, personally I would say see you in court to Smart Parking.

All these things are designed to catch you out. Time they were stopped.

We cross-posted there Jane.

I don’t know how courts feel about POPLA and whether they overturn decisions.

More advice needed here I think.

So would I, Alfa. I have had a run-in with Smart Parking too – right bunch of cowboys. Make sure you keep the records just in case they want to pursue it – but I’m pretty sure they won’t. In particular, take a photo of the actual ticket before its thermal printing fades.

Fear not, Jane they won’t pursue this one as they wouldn’t want to set a precedent of such unreasonableness. You can expect bluff and bluster with an increasing ante from their debt collecting goons (DHG from memory, and then Gladwins who are their noms de plume over the next year or so, but you can – and should – steadfastly ignore those as they have less power than a knackered boiler. You should however respond to one that is headed “Letter before claim” or “letter before action” – and of course must defend any official court summons. Come back here if you get either of those and we’ll help you with the wording of a defence.

I can confirm – and have witnesses – that the machines they have in some places have crippled software with a far-too–large wake-up time, so that if you are the first to put money in the pay machine for a fair time, it is entirely possible to enter the correct registration number but only the last one or two digits to register.

No registration plate with just a single character exists – it should not have permitted you to pay. Entrapment.

POPLA is binding on the shysters if appeal upheld but not on the parker. An oath swearing that payment was made and a valiant attempt to enter the reg number was made but the machine had timed out would almost certainly see rightful see acquittal – IMHO IANAL.

Thanks for your comment alfa

Thanks Roger, I’m not going to do anything, I’ll wait, I’m so annoyed, like you say, it should have not let me proceed with payment knowing only 1 digit entered, put it said enter coins, it was only 50p but I had no change only a single pound coin.
And trying to get hold of these cowboys is unbelievable, they don’t answer the phone. I thought if I ring straight away and tell them what’s happened they can make a note or advise me what to do, but no help line , it’s ridiculous. I’m so worked up about it !

Jane put in the letter “M”, according to her comment.

However, the big issue, in my view, is not that people contravene parking regulations or contractual terms, as most of the posts seem to but, as I keep repeating, no action is being taken to reduce the extortionate charges – both private and public – to a reasonable level.

We are concerned quite rightly, and put in a lot of time and effort seemingly, to reduce APP scams that amount to around £500m a year. Yet here is an industry that removes 3 times that much from motorists pockets – £1 500 000 000 – for trivial transgressions in the main via a legalised scam and yet we sit back and ignore it.

These parking fines are definitely a legalised scam.

If you have paid to park and can prove it, these companies should have no right to impose fines on you at all. They have devised rules and regulations to get around the basic fact that you owe them absolutely nothing so why are POPLA, the courts and the government letting them get away with this extortion?

My wife received a parking notice after our car was photographed entering and leaving a retail park. I appealed as we had been 34 minutes over the 3 hour limit, it was January sale time, we had a meal in a cafe and my wife was recovering from hip surgery. Unsurprisingly my appeal was turned down, saying they had carefully considered my reasons, (but offered no written rebuttal). I just gave in and paid the £50, only to find that they also added a £1.50 admin charge. Legitimised highway robbery, as far as I am concerned!

I was issued a parking charge of £60 as my residence parking permit wasn’t on display even though I was parked in by assigned parking bay and I have been a resident for 2 years! My permit was placed on the dashboard, passenger side by my son but it was placed on the flat section and then unknowingly it fell to the floor when exiting the car so it was visible at the time of the charge being issued. I intend to appeal but what are my chances of success.

The straight answer, Paul, is zero.

If you challenge the issue of the ticket I am sure you will be told that it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that any parking permit is correctly displayed before leaving the vehicle.

I am sure you meant to write that the permit was not visible at the time of the charge.

The enforcement operative might have remembered that your car had a permit but would not necessarily know its expiry date, so was obliged to issue a parking charge notice.

But the issue really is, having contravened a legitimate rule, a £60 fine is extortionate – as with other parking contraventions. I despair that this consumer rip-off practice is allowed to continue unchallenged.

I think the get-out for the private land parking industry is that so long as the charge is within the statutory limits and is clearly displayed at the location it is fair – albeit unreasonable in our eyes.

I suspect that legislation is required to bring about any change but it will not be high up the government’s agenda. Perhaps Which?, using its close connections to lawmakers behind the scenes, could see if there is an MP willing to promote this through a Private Member’s Bill.

I suggest you appeal, Paul. If this is the first time you have made a mistake in two years, I hope you will not be required to pay. Anyone can occasionally make a mistake. Best of luck.

gerard laden says:
16 February 2020

I revived last week Feb 2020 a PNC for an alleged event i 2014
this was the first letter received and i answered immediate asking for clarification

is there a time bar on such claim ?

I assume this is the civil enforcement of a debt for occupying a parking space on private land without authority. In England and Wales action for recovery must be taken within six years of the date of the charge [five years from the date of discovery in Scotland]. Check the issue date on the parking charge notice – you might be lucky and it is unenforceable. If it is within the six year period you should insist on seeing evidence in support of the action [i.e. justifying the issue of the PCN]. Any charge due should be at the rate and on the terms and conditions applying in 2014, not 2020.

As far as I can see that applies if a notice of the debt was initially issued within 14 days of the alleged offence. If no notice was originally issued then no recovery can be enforced.

I assumed from gerard’s post that this was the first he had heard of the offence. However, how he proves this is problematic as there is no requirement to have a signature confirming receipt of a parking charge notice. I think there is a case for requiring important documents to have proof of delivery.

Agreed. It depends on how the initial enforcement was carried out six years ago. The original notice might not have been delivered. If there was no proof of posting then the issuing body will struggle to stand up the enforcement process in court at this distance in time from the event. It might be best to appeal against the ticket on the grounds of defective enforcement and see what happens. The problem is that the judgment in the Beavis case is not a good portent.

I believe it should be established that while proof of receipt is not essential for recovery proceedings [there could be many reasons why it is not possible that would open up loopholes in debt recovery action], failure to show proof of posting or obtain a proof of delivery would seriously jeopardise a long-delayed claim. Modern data systems and processes now exist to identify and trace people so neglect of pursuance of a claim should have to be justified for the claim to proceed.

If the penalties for minor contraventions were set at a reasonable level and if the enforcement process was aligned with the local authority regime [still a civil process but more clearly defined and specified] then a large proportion of these parking complaints would disappear and a great burden would be lifted from drivers and the industry.

As a matter of interest, are parking charges for the use of private land liable to VAT?

Offroad parking seems to be liable to vat – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-on-land-and-property-notice-742#sect5

“On-street parking
Authorisation for parking on a public highway can only be granted by a local authority. This is in its capacity as a highway authority using powers provided in the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984. Therefore any income from sources such as parking meters, the issue of permits in controlled parking zones and the like is non-business as there is no competition with the private sector.

Off-street parking
Following the Court of Appeal judgment in Isle of Wight Council and Others (2014) UKUT 446 (TCC), off-street parking is standard rated, even if supplied by a local authority.”

Fines and penalties are exempt https://www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/vat-supply-and-consideration/vatsc06140 unless there is a charge made for the extra time not originally purchased.

I agree that proof of posting would be a step in the right direction and it seems a reliable way of ensuring delivery. However, there is always the risk of non-delivery or not getting to the right person.

Thanks for that information, Malcolm.

So drivers buying time to park in an off-street car park, or a permit to park in a designated off-street space, are being charged VAT and presumably, therefore, one sixth of the takings are rendered to HMRC [provided the parking provider is liable for VAT]. I hope this is being diligently enforced.

I have seen some poorly displayed notices in car parks, but this one is in an Aldi car park takes the biscuit. It’s probably easy to read if you are on the top deck of a double-decker bus:

Standing on the ground and looking up, there was no way that I could read the small print:

Thankfully there is a notice at a sensible height.

But how can we be sure that the two notices have exactly the same wording?

In a car park the notices required to set out the terms and conditions of enforcement should be at eye level. On the street, where no such T-&-C’s are required, they need to be higher to avoid people colliding with them and sustaining an injury [or other people defacing or tampering with them].

I can see that placing notices out of reach will help avoid them being interfered with, but this is rather overdoing it.

I have taken an interest in parking conditions since I learned of a case where they were changed to require users of parking outside shops to remain on site during their stay.

The notice states: “For use only while shopping in store”, so I presume that if I popped next door to Screwfix I could end up with a fine.

I like our Morrisons, where there are currently no parking restrictions and I can visit other shops without moving the car, and Tesco, where parking is restricted to three hours but there is no need to be a customer.

I would contend that unreadable notices – out of range of vision or with text too small to read in their location – are unenforceable.

Perhaps Aldi have a problem over here; UK citizens are not compliant by nature.

I suppose the signs do draw attention to the fact that parking is restricted and I was able to read the small print on a sign mounted at a sensible height.

I did not see any cameras, so it’s possible that the signs are there as a deterrent.