Government to support backbench MP’s bill to clamp down on companies that abuse ability to impose fines on motorists
A crackdown on the sharing of data about motorists will be used to drive "dodgy" parking firms out of business, the Government has said.
It has indicated it is ready to bar companies that fall foul of a new code of practice from accessing the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) database, preventing them from issuing fines and in effect forcing them out of the industry.
The Government is planning to throw its weight being a backbench bill for a Parking (Code of Practice) Bill from Conservative MP Greg Knight. The bill is up for debate on Friday 2 February, and would likely run out of time without Government backing.
The move has come in response to growing anger about an explosion in the number of parking fines issued by private operators, often as a result of confusing signs in car parks, motorists’ groups say.
Drivers have also protested about the size of fines, intimidating payment letters and a complex appeals process – fuelled by the firms’ buying data from DVLA records.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “For too long drivers have suffered from unjust fines at the hands of dodgy parking firms. We need a fairer, clearer and more consistent system that brings the small minority of unscrupulous operators in line with those who are behaving appropriately.
“That is why the Government is putting the brakes on these rogue operators and backing new laws that will put a stop to aggressive behaviour and provide a simpler way for drivers to appeal fines.”
The DVLA makes more than £1.4 million a month from selling motorists' information to companies. In the three-month period between July and September last year, 1,429,703 records were sold for tickets issued remotely - almost 13 times higher than the 111,944 records sold a decade earlier in the same period.
A 2012 Act introduced the power for operators to fine owners of vehicles, rather than having to prove who was driving, which has resulted in the surge in remote fines. But nearly 10,000 people approached Citizens Advice for help appealing against private parking tickets last year.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said it was backing the bill, adding: “We all hoped the ban on clamping would end the sharp practices that had come to plague private parking, but the fact that companies are issuing millions of penalty tickets annually is clear evidence that something is still going badly awry.”
Image by Colin, CC BY 2.0 through flickr