Our chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith looks at unfair parking enforcement, from a lack of clear signage to faulty meters. Have you been hit by an unfair parking fine?
There are few areas of everyday life which generate stories of laughably blatant unfairness quite as consistently as parking controls do.
A few years ago, before I worked at Which?, I parked in a street in west London where there were no parking restrictions of any kind. I returned at the end of the day to find yellow lines painted on the space previously occupied by my car, and the car towed away to the car pound. I did not see the notice warning of the impending restrictions because it was much further down the street. At the time, I didn’t contest the large fine but if it happened today, I definitely would.
Unfair parking ticket stories
Hundreds of you have contacted us in recent years to tell us about unfair parking tickets (and to ask Which? Legal Service to help you challenge them). In many cases, the issue is lack of clear signage or information. In others, it’s down to faulty meters, Blue Badges which were partly obscured or upside down, or you’d slightly overstayed the limit.
In one intriguing case, a Which? member told us he was ticketed for parking on his own property. There are so many ridiculous cases emerging on websites devoted to the subject of parking that someone has written an entire book about it.
A high proportion of parking appeals are successful – about 50% at the last count – adding weight to the theory that somewhere along the line there has been a breakdown of common sense in parking enforcement.
New parking proposals
The government has responded in favour of a number of measures proposed in a recent consultation on local authority parking to inject some common sense, and, indeed, a sense of proportion – the measures include a mandatory five minutes’ grace period after your time is up before you get a ticket.
It also called for councils to publish revenue from parking bays and tickets. This seems sensible to me. Most of all, however, I would like to see a curb on ticket-happy traffic wardens.
Yes, they have a job to do to keep traffic moving, and undoubtedly many of them are beyond reproach, but when so many appeals are successful, you have to ask who is generating these unjustified tickets – which are an utter waste of time and money.
If you’ve had a ticket that you believe is unfair, find out how to challenge it on our consumer rights website.