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Author: Internal Customer Services Agent

 

Fighting back against the cost of car parking fines

At some point in our lifetime it is likely that we will receive one or two car parking fines. That feeling of dreed when you return to your car to see a fine tucked under your wiper blade is, for many of us, an all too familiar sinking feeling. Many thousands of consumers receive fines each and every year and recent research has suggested it is not often that we decide to appeal the decision. The fact of the matter is that often when we receive these fines we either believe we deserve them or cannot figure out how to go about appealing the fine. Given that the vast majority of fines allow a reduction to be paid if the fine is settled within a short period of time; often 7 days, the thought of appealing the fine and therefore extending past this period often becomes not worth the risk for many of us. That said increasingly consumers are reporting that they feel they are receiving fines in a manner which is unjust. I have an example myself whilst parked in my local town, when I received a parking fine. I had parked in a street where parking was permitted and where I believed I was in a designated parking bay. My parking was at 8pm at night to complete a charity walk around the town, upon finishing at midnight I returned to a parking ticket. It appears I was not in a designated bay and in fact just outside; the indicator of such, a sign which was completely hidden by a hanging basket. Like so many consumers I did not genuinely know I had parked incorrectly and given the town was effectively closed due to being outside of business hours and on a quiet street, I was unsure if the fine was fair. That said, like so many, I did not dispute it as I was unsure how to and instead paid promptly to avoid an increased fine.

I am not alone in my thinking and logic of paying due to lack of understanding. Currently only 0.5% of consumers receiving a parking fine raise a dispute through the independent adjudicators; the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT) even though 50% of those who raise a dispute regarding a council car park come away with a successful result. The great news is that from today onwards there is a new online platform which makes disputing the issuing of a parking fine much more straight forward. By the end of this year the scheme will be available nationwide but is currently live for Hove and Brighton only (as at 14/03/2016). At present this scheme will only relate specifically to those of us who receive fines in either designated blue bus lanes or council operated car parks. For those who are subject to fines for the Dartford Crossing and Durham congestion charge, this system will now also be available, should you believe you have been issued a fine incorrectly or unfairly. Whilst this new scheme would appear to simply make the appeals process better for consumers, in addition it will also make the process of appeals cheaper for the councils involved too. Research into the scheme has highlighted that local authorities will be able to save in the region of £200.00 per individual case reviewed, reducing the man hours required to review cases and the generation of written correspondence.

In essence the process of appealing appears at the outset is to be exactly the same as previously was the case. If you return to your car to find you have been issued a ticket, you have to express whether you wish to accept and pay the fine or alternatively you can elect to reject it. In instances where you wish to reject the fine you will need to tell the council this is the case and a Rejection Letter will be issued. In order to then appeal you will need to contact the TPT and this is when if the new online appeals service is available in your area, it will become apparent. Where this is the case the TPT will allow you to explain directly why you believe the fine is unfair and then will come back to you directly with a decision. In cases where the TPT agree with your appeal there will be no further action to be taken, in instances where the TPT rule in favour of the council, it is generally considered that this decision is final and the fee should therefore be paid.

Ultimately the purpose of this new portal is to give consumers an effective and easy to follow process of appealing parking fines they believe to have been issued unfairly. Having been made available in partnership with Resolver, the online consumer complaints service, early indications are that more councils will be joining the scheme in the not too distant future. 

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