‘Bullying’ parking firms should be forced to grant 10-minute ‘grace period’ to drivers, urges MP

A new code of conduct is being drawn up to tackle the 'wild west' industry

Drivers should be given a ten minute window after entering a car park before being hit with a fine by “Wild West” parking companies, a former minister has urged.

Caroline Nokes, who served as Immigration Minister under Theresa May, made the plea after a constituent endured a 20-month battle over a fine handed out for just six minutes of parking.

Nokes insisted the government insert the rule as part of the a new code of conduct for private parking companies currently being drawn up.

The code of conduct stems from a law brought forward by Tory grandee Sir Greg Knight in March 2019, which called a clamp down on rogue private parking firms.

More than a year since the bill became law, and the code of conduct has still not been published.

Speaking in the Commons, Nokes demanded the government get to grips with the “sharp practices of the wild west of parking services”.

She added: “Will the Minister this evening in this much delayed debate therefore please give us an update on progress and an absolute commitment that, exactly as was said in February, the code will be developed this year and introduced? 

“Will he reassure me and my constituent that the 10-minute grace period or transaction period, which allows a driver to enter a car park, establish the charges and then decide whether he wishes to pay them or whether they are far too high for his taste and he wishes to leave and go elsewhere, will be included? 

“That could have saved my constituent 20 months of harassment and pain.”

Figures released in November 2018 showed more than 18,000 parking tickets were being handed out every day – with parking firms making 1.7million requests for driver information from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) over a six month period.

That represented a 20% year-on-year increase.

A repeated breach of the code by a parking enforcement company would see them barred from accessing DVLA records – therefore making it virtually impossible for them to follow-up unpaid fines.

Responding for the Government, Local Government Minister Simon Clarke insisted work was progressing on the code, and it was now in draft form.

He said: “This is only a first draft and, as I have said, the final draft will be worked up in close consultation with key stakeholders, and there will be plenty of opportunity for everyone to have their voice heard in this process.”

Clarke repeated the government’s pledge to have the code finished by the “end of the year”.

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