Three-quarters of motorists want the government to step in and regulate the private parking sector.
A poll by motoring organisation the RAC found that 73% of motorists want the government to act against the unregulated industry and introduce minimum standards.
The organisation is backing a call from Conservative MP Sir Greg Knight to introduce a legally binding code of practice and establish a fair appeals process for drivers.
RAC statistics show around 4.7 million vehicle records were handed over by the DVLA to private parking firms in the year to April 2017 – a record high.
Around 91% of motorists would be in favour of caps on the penalty fines that can be issued by private firms with 90% also wanting an end to the aggressive enforcement of these fines.
Just 4% of those surveyed thought the fines issued by private firms and the conduct of these firms was reasonable.
Although the Department for Communities and Local Government launched a consultation paper on the issue in March 2015, the results have yet to be published.
‘Motorists want the sector cleaned up’
Sir Greg Knight MP says there are many ways in which the sector can be cleaned up and has launched a private member’s bill to tackle this issue. It is expected to have its second reading in the House of Commons in February 2018.
“Private parking providers are now issuing a ticket every seven seconds – many of them in dubious circumstances,” he says.
“Some dodgy operators are engaging in practices including ‘ghost ticketing’ – the use of CCTV to spot parking infringements and issue parking charge notices, unclear and ambiguous signing and issuing tickets despite malfunctioning parking payment machines. Currently, there is no legally binding, mandatory code of practice.
“Of course private landowners have rights, but when landowners invite people to park on their property the rules need to be fair to both parties. Time and again I hear horror stories from motorists, so this bill will reform unfair parking operator practices. It will oblige anyone who wants to run a car park on private land to operate in a fair and reasonable way that respects the rights of all involved.”
The RAC says the government must introduce minimum standards of conduct, a fair and an effective independent appeals process, a ban on ghost ticketing and a cap on the fines issued.
RAC parking policy spokesman Nicholas Lyes says: “The strength of feeling is clear – motorists want the sector cleaned up and for self-regulation to end. With scandals such as ghost ticketing and hugely aggressive debt management systems, there urgently needs to be a set of national minimum standards.
“We have been calling on the Government to do the right thing for some time now. That’s why we are giving our wholehearted backing to the private member’s bill tabled by Sir Greg Knight MP. It is ludicrous that an industry with such a poor reputation is allowed to self-regulate without a shared minimum code of practice or an effective independent appeals process.”