/ 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 a parking ticket in
A private car park in leeds. I paid the fee for 12 hours through ringo as I did every
Day before and after ticket.
Fee taken from my bank.challenged ticket, had my challenge rejected.unbelievable. Now willgo to court, as I will not
Be bullied into paying a ticket I paid parking for.
Shame on excel parking.

Kathy says:
17 April 2019

I have just received a parking fine, but I paid for my parking at the machine however the recept which was given to me doesn’t have the correct car registration on it. I kept it as it was the only ticket issued. I didn’t check it at the time but it must have been for another car details The time of on receipt is correct for parking . I can’t appeal as the website doesn’t seem to work and the telephone numbers do not have an option of speaking with anyone. What can I do ?

The ticket you’re issued should include contact details for the company that has issued it. Is there an email or address? You can use our online tools to write an appeal letter.


Diana Kennedy says:
17 April 2019

My daughter has received a parking charge for parking in the designated parking space for the flat that she has just bought. She was informed by the estate agent that that was her space and did not realise that a permit was required, not noticing the signs stating this. She has had no notifications from the management company as they have not been informed by the freeholder that she is now the owner of the flat.

Any advice, on small claim court issues relating to challenging parking on a private land, l feel the ticket was issues unfairly, l wrote to them severally but adamantly refuse then it was taken to county court and now process of either mediation or small claim court

I have received a parking ticket for parking which I paid for, but the machine did not issue a receipt. I have contested it and requested that they check the camera’s. To which their response has been that I only paid half the amount. I know I paid the full amount as I budgeted for it and had the right change.

Premier Parking in Swindon have a numberplate camera which records me entering at 1.00pm. I bought a £2 ticket for one hour at 1.05 with a credit card, and displayed the ticket on the dash as required. I returned and left at 1.58. Only one letter of the number plate was recorded on the ticket. My card statement records the £2 transaction. They claim not to have the payment from my card. I kept the tickets and scanned them with my appeal. They have reviewed the case and find me in contravention of their rules. Is this justifiable behaviour. They stress that their terms and conditions are on the (copious) signage – which is why I was careful to keep the tickets. I don’t see why I shoud rush to pay £60 now or £100 later for a parking period I had paid for, and can prove it. On the other hand I have better things to do than go to court. They say I can go to the Independent Appeals Service which sounds equally suspect and is probably a subsidiary company of theirs. Åny suggestions as to what to do would be welcome.

David says:
18 April 2019

Well, it may cost me £150 in parking charges to have done some shopping at Tesco Express, 300 metres from my home. Normally, we do online shopping with Tesco and have things delivered to us monthly; however, we still use the Express for urgent things like milk or fresh produce. On this evening, I drove our replacement car to the Tesco Express, on way home and found that there was stock delivery to the store at the back, which blocked out about 10 parking spaces in the car park. The other spaces at the front and side were all taken by other parked cars. So I parked on the double yellow lines to quickly buy the necessities. Came out and drove off – about 10 minutes shopping. Few weeks later, we received a letter from the car replacement company, stating that a PCN had been received in respect of our car, which came as a shock, as nothing had been placed on the windscreen.
Replacement car company asked for £50 administration charge and a few days later, we received a letter from PPS to state that we owed £100 for traffic contravention. I appealed this on the grounds that: there was no parking ticket on the car when I came out of the store and also there were no parking spaces. I further said had the car been issued with a parking ticket, I would have paid £60 within 2 weeks, instead of paying an additional £50 fee for a notification letter from the hiring company, Impression I got from PPS was that there is a contract with Tesco and if there was no parking space, then I should not shop at Tesco. For the record, I was not impeding any traffic. I am now advised that challenging the ticket doesn’t extend the 14 day limit for paying a reduced charge. I am minded to write to the parking company to remonstrate about the farcical complaint procedure and copy the chief executive of Tesco to the email. Any ideas?

David, you don’t say whether Tesco had designated parking spaces for their stock delivery, in which case there should have been a notice displayed to this effect. If not, I would certainly write to Tescos CEO informing him that their cut price policy is a complete fallacy if shopping at one of their express stores is costing you £150 + the price of goods purchased there, and would he agree to pay the fine? If not I would certainly consider taking my custom elsewhere.

However, and here’s the rub. Parking on double yellow lines is not recommended in any circumstance and as you made the decision to park your vehicle there instead of driving to an alternate store, which could have cost you less in petrol than the impending fine, then you will have a hard time convincing the PPS that Tescos parking arrangements was to blame on this occasion.

Whatever you decide I wish you luck, but next time you need a pint of milk or other necessity, I would certainly consider driving the extra mile where you are more likely to find a parking space for your car.

Perhaps Which? are reconsidering their stance? there is a poll attached to Convos now:
“Are the costs of parking fines out of control?
No, they’re an effective deterrent
Yes, they’re disproportionately high
Yes, they should depend on the offence

It would be useful, though, in polls like this to explain the structure of parking penalties – their initial costs, the extra costs, the deterrent to appeals……. so people understand what they are voting for.

The polls keep changing malcolm. The current one as I watch is asking ‘Which pets are a best buy’ with unicorns as one of the answer choices getting 26% of the votes.

It would make much more sense to have relevant polls attached to the actual convos.

I’ve just closed that poll – I didn’t realise it was still pulling through!

Having the ability to assign specific polls to convos is on the list of development work for the site.

Here’s an example of how parking fines can be useful.

Years ago, our local Tesco was allowed to take over running a public car park adjacent to its new store, the agreement with the council being that anyone could park free for three hours. The three hour period was not enforced and parking became difficult at busy times. Signs were erected, warning that anyone who stayed more than three hours would be charged £70. Since then, there has been no problem finding a space. I presume that some people who work in town had been leaving their cars there all day until enforcement was introduced.

It is not the principle of a parking penalty that is the issue, it is the extortionate amount and the extra costs that can follow. Of course we want people to park fairly but the deterrent also has to be fair and proportionate.

I wonder of Barry Beavis’s case would have fared better if he had not, apparently knowingly, overstayed his time and maybe deliberately contravened the regulations? “I over-stayed in Riverside Retail Park by 52 minutes because I used to get so much printing done at Staples. “. That does not excuse a penalty, because it could have prevented someone else from parking. What is not excused is the size of the penalty. That needs to be continually challenged.

Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:

​​’This is a thoroughly disappointing judgment based on a narrow​ ​interpretation of the law. It will cause chaos if cowboy parking firms​ ​choose to take advantage of the ruling by hitting drivers with even​ ​more excessive charges. Our advice to consumers is to be on your guard​ ​and always appeal if you think a parking fine is unfair.’

We’re now planning to take the issue up with government ministers since a reversal of the judgment will require changes to the law.

Which? have, as far as I can recall, not reported back on their plan – whether they ever did take it up.

As I said earlier, such unfair parking penalties cost motorists upwards of £600m a year, and possibly much more – maybe £1 billion+. Not an issue to be closed, I’d suggest.

Malcolm, @jon-stricklin-coutinho was going to try and find out what happened to the follow-up planned by Richard Lloyd.


I worked in a university where anyone who contravened the regulations was likely to find an orange notice behind the windscreen, providing a reminder of the conditions that they had agreed to when purchasing an annual parking permit and warning that in future they may be fined. Persistent offenders were fined.

I suggest that a similar system could operate in car parks used by the public. We are all human and can make a mistake, so parking charges should target persistent offenders. If someone is a few minutes over the allowed time then ignore it the first time, but if there is a repeat offence during the next week or month then take enforcement action.

With the number of different people parking in different car parks I cannot see how this can work without a huge central database to which all parking companies contribute. I have no problem with parking offenders being penalised, providing the penalty is sensible.

Thanks alfa. That’s a week ago. I would have thought it would be an easy quick bit of info to find out from Which? Richard Lloyd’s proposal is 3½ years old. Perhaps I’m just too impatient. 🙁

@alfa, Jon has replied – 25 mins ago! Missed that – sorry Jon.

I don’t think that is necessary to collate data across the country. I’m suggesting that overstaying for a short period in a particular car park should not be punished on the first occasion and penalties reserved for those who are repeated offenders or overstay by longer periods.

Our village car park gives one hour free (you need a ticket). For longer periods you pay, with around £10 max to deter commuters who should pay in the station car park. A sensible arrangement to encourage shoppers, in my view.

I’m very much in support of appropriate restrictions. There are four or five parking spaces outside the village shop. There should really be a 20 minute restriction because the visitors have been known to park there and disappear for hours. The ‘enforcement’ is a note from a member of staff asking them not to do it again. It works well.

The station in town charges £3 a day or a higher rate for those who have no train ticket. It’s not a large car park, so I get a lift or take the bus into town.

Unless there is an arrangement with the council (our Tesco must provide free parking for three hours as mentioned above) I think it would make sense for shops to make it clear that car parking is for customers.

I parked my van in a B & Q car park about 6.45 am – subsequently to find that Premier Park were monitoring it with cameras. I was buying materials for a job I was starting that morning – I’m a plasterer – including 7 sheets of plasterboard. After my purchase I left the car park about 7.15 am. I unloaded the materials at the client’s house, with the client in attendance. My client then left for work. About 11 am, I returned to B & Q for further materials, returning about 11.30 am. So I clearly visited B & Q on two occasions – I have two receipts confirming same. After a week or so, Premier Park issued me with a Parking Charge Notice for staying in the car park for 4 hours and 20 minutes. I have a signed truth statement from my client, which I sent to Premier Park along with copies of the two receipts. They ignored it and stated that I should appeal, so I stupidly appealed believing that the appeal process would be heard by a completely independent organisation. They reject the appeal – I later learnt that there is a connection between car parking companies and the appeal process. This happened in November 2017. I’ve also learned that a new Bill has just passed into law concerning unscrupulous car parking companies, especially addressing the issue of an independent appeal process. Premier Park have insisted that I have to pay their unfair charge, and have put forward the ridiculous notion that I attended B & Q in the morning accompanied by a friend and his van, and then returned with the materials in my friend’s van to my client, who only saw me unload the materials in my van. That later that morning returned to B & Q purchased more materials, then placed the second lot of materials into my van and then left the car park about 11.15 am. They are now taking me to court in Liverpool, I live in Portsmouth, so requested that the case be heard in the Portsmouth County Court. This has been confirmed by Portsmouth requesting that the parties exchange documents. I then received a letter from Premier Park offering to reduce the charge to £150, as long as I respond by August 10th 2019. One week after that offer I received a bundle of documents from Premier Park, making outlandish comments and confirming that they had sent the bundle to their Liverpool Court, when clearly it’s been changed to Portsmouth. I’ve just re-read the document from Portsmouth Court which states the exchange should be completed by 4th April, which I hadn’t spotted. It’s therefore strange that the court case seems to be going ahead, even though Premier Park have stated I have until August to respond to their offer. Any ideas, after that long essay, for which I apologise.

Hi Myles, given that Premier Park seem to be operating on the basis of “guilty until proven innocent” I applaud your efforts to date and encourage you to fight on.

If you win, which you should, will you be able to claim payment for your time and trouble from Premier Park?

I can’t believe it! I just got fined £130 for supposedly ‘stopping on a restricted bus stop or stand’.
Yes, I used a bit of a bus lane, but I didn’t stop, I made a u-turn. It was at 9 pm, it took me less that 30 seconds to do and there were no buses anyway. They formally rejected my representation, stating that “the fact that you completed a three point turn does not negate the contravention”. I didn’t even do a 3 point turn, I did a u-turn! No stopping required! Their photographic evidence shows me doing the u-turn (and the timings), but their video footage is not right: it’s not the same location or time and so my car isn’t even there! So they can’t see that I didn’t stop, I’m guessing they have made that assumption from the photos, which obviously make it seem like my car is static on the bus lane.
Is this fair?
Unfortunately now my only option is completing a notice of appeal. Surely this is too easy for them – they know full well most people are not going to bother with making appeals to tribunals.
How disappointing!

Martin says:
26 April 2019

I parked at a local hotel car park for my work. I pay them monthly, they give me a printed invoice receipt each month. I have been sent around 10 parking tickets from Parking Eye who claim I parked without a ticket. I sent them proof of these invoice receipts from the Hotel, they have rejected them saying it is not proof and the fine stands.

I have appealed to POPLAR on the first one and await their reply, but the company insists I appeal each one for each day individually even though my one receipt covers an entire month.

Can I appeal to an ombudsman directly and can I counter claim for all the time this is wasting when I have evidence to prove that I paid the hotel to park at their premises?

Fiona says:
29 April 2019

Can anyone explain the difference between the “observed time” which was 16:56 and was within my 10 minute grace and the date of contravention time 17:02 which was one minute after. ( I believe I had returned to my car at 16:58) so it is important as to which is built into the machine and which can be typed in?

Tony Orrell says:
29 April 2019

In January I parked at the Marks and Spencer Car Park in Westbourne, Bournemouth. There was a car parking attendant present, whom we consulted about cost, refund from M and S etc. He told us the maximum time was one and a half hours, but that we would be ok to stay up to two hours. We bought the ticket for £1.50 and he showed us the detachable part to give to M and S. I returned and collected the car within the 2 hours , but over the one and a half hours. I have now been fined by Euro Car Parks £85 and feel this is unfair. I have lost my appeal with both ECP and POPLA, and the shop won’t get involved – although they must know the attendant. I have no proof of the conversation, but the onus seems to be on me to provide proof. What can I do , as I feel I have been scammed? I live over 2 hours away and was only visiting with my wife and a friend. We’re all in our 60s and I have chronic heart failure, so need to park near to the facilities. I presume there will now be threatening letters – which will be stressful. I would have thought Marks and Spencer would want to offer some support at they encourage customers to park there. It seems that their standards of customer care have been completely eroded.

Tony Orrell says:
9 June 2019

hi Amelia
Thank you for your reply, which I have only just picked up.

I think the POPLA rejection hinged on their inability to gather evidence on my behalf.
As I have contacted M and S , and they have not offered any assistance in clearing this up, and as I live over two hours away , it is a simple matter of whether I am telling the truth. If I am taken to court over this, my wife and her friend were witnesses to the conversation. I have now been threatened by DRP and the charge is now £145 – a sum escalated due to my appeal! The stress of standing up for a principle is not good for my heart failure. I feel I have been ‘set up’ by the attendant and am powerless to defend myself, and am not sure what my next step is.

I would be grateful for any advice that has a moral basis, as obviously the attendant and
M and S should accept some responsibility.
Many thanks

I am a disabled blue badge holder but when at hospital today I parked in disabled spot and forgot to put badge up on display. When I returned to car a had a parking ticket from a company called PEA parking. Do i have to pay this as it’s a private company. I love I northern ireland.

Hi I work on a crisis team and whilst visiting a patient I received a parking notice followed by notification of a fine via work as I use a lease car. It was a council property I was visiting with no other parking near by and I was instructed to use my organisational blue badge in the communial parking area as there were no spare permits. Not sure what to do next as the company are very hard to contact and the only time I managed to speak to someone I had to re send my appeal I had sent as it bounced back as the e mail was invalid. Just looking for advice as I have not come across this before

We are appealing against a Parking notice fine and all the evidence I have on this case is the fact that I telephoned the number to pay and the call lasted for over 2 minutes. I did not check my bank account but was amazed to get a PCN a few days later from Civil Enforcement. I gave all the details of my bank and the payment seemed to go through ok. (have used them before). We have lost the appeal and what is our position now.

Hi. I appealed against a PCN but didn’t receive the email notification that my appeal had been rejected – it’s possible that it went into my junk folder but that gets deleted after 30 days so now I can’t find out. My ticket has been passed to UCS who have issued a final demand for £170. If I had received the denial notification I would have paid the original sum – do I have any options other than paying up? Thanks!

Lukas says:
9 May 2019

I was issued with a parking ticket for parking at Marina Car Park in Exeter. I believe that this parking charge was issued unfairly.
The parking machine did not recognise the registration. I have tried to pay in two different machines, however, seen the note there is no charge for my vehicle. Also, on the way out I stopped by person who is charge of the parking and asked what should I do on this occasion, how shall I Pay. I have been told to drive away and not pay for anything as the camera probably did not recognise the vehicle. My appeal has been rejected, explaining that I wrote l instead of 1, with is not true. Reviews on Google shows that there is a very large group of people who have been cheated by this company. Is there any way how to appeal to their decision?

james gower says:
10 May 2019

spent the best part of 2 weeks on and off making dozens of calls trying to pay them and get the parasites off my back, using their phone payment system, time and time again it came back only repeating part of the code i put in i was about to say stuff it when it accepted it , eureka, pressed enter it did’nt recognised its own code!, tried again and again no joy, i’ve recorded this, and i’ve just received there first letter demanding £100, i’m going to reply telling them to do their damnedest, what do you think folks?.