Knight’s Days – reporting back from Westminster with Sir Greg Knight MP

Over recent years there has been an increase in penalty notices.
Over recent years there has been an increase in penalty notices.

Parking is an indispensable part of motoring. If you undertake a journey in a car, you need to park it.

According to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, there are 38 million vehicles on our roads. Of those, probably 19 million will be driven and undertake at least one parking transaction each day.

The number of “penalty” notices issued every year from private car parks is nearly five million and rising fast, so many drivers are now being threatened with parking penalty charges.

In my view, motorists should have certainty that when they enter a car park they are entering into a contract that is reasonable, transparent and involves a consistent process.

Poor signage, unreasonable terms, exorbitant “fines”, aggressive demands for payment and a less than independent appeals process need to be outlawed.

Some private parking operators deploy tactics which are outrageous.

One motorist was driving on a private industrial estate, searching for a business that he was having difficulty finding.

He stopped in an empty lay-by for 15 seconds to re-set his satellite navigation system and he was filmed by a passing security van equipped with a video camera.

One week later he received a penalty invoice for £100 for stopping in breach of a sign situated further back along the road.

When he used their appeals procedure, he was ignored and he continues to receive threatening letters.

Another appalling case involved a pensioner called Angela.

Her car was ticketed for £70 for exceeding the time permitted in the car park.

Angela is five feet tall, and the parking sign was mounted so high that initially she did not even see it. When she returned to discover the “ticket”, she looked for signage and eventually saw a small sign high up a pole. The text was so small that she could not read it.

My Parking Bill will bring this sort of behaviour to an end.

It requires the government to create a mandatory code of practice for the private parking sector to end unfair treatment of motorists and will ensure that the terms under which private parking is provided, are fair, clear and unambiguous.

My code will ensure drivers that private car park operators will treat them in a reasonable and proportionate manner.

If they do not, motorists will have access to a robust and independent appeals service and erring car park operators will be put out of business by being denied access to DVLA vehicle keeper records.

Parliament is used to conflict. The very layout of the Commons Chamber seems to pitch one side against the other. However, occasionally MPs from different parties come together to support a measure that is necessary and overdue.

I am happy to gratefully acknowledge the help and support I have received from the Opposition Labour Party as well as from the Government, to ensure that my Bill passed all stages of scrutiny in the House of Commons a few days ago.

Parliament is now going to make parking a fairer and more predictable experience for us all.