Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Scottish Parliament discuss unfair parking charges

The Scottish Parliament debated unfair parking charges. The full report is here.

MPs, and Citizens Advice Scotland reported a vast increase in the number of complaints regarding private parking charges. Although it was agreed landowner rights needed to be respected, the common consent was that the balance had tipped too far and aggressive practices were being used to milk the motorists out of money.

Most of the complaints were down to 15 rogue firms. Although these were not mentioned by name, The Prankster will hazard a guess that ParkingEye, CEL, Smart Parking, Excel Parking, Vehicle Control Services, UK Parking Control and UKCPS were the main culprits. These companies all use the dodgy tactics highlighted in the debate.

Particular emphasis was put on bad signage, excessive charges and impersonation of council charges.

It was also noted that a whistle-blower from Smart Parking explained that a controversial new system in Kinnoull Street, Perth was introduced with the sole purpose of driving up parking charge revenue.

(Prankster note. This is a common tactic by rogue operators. Freedom of Information requests show that parking charge revenue increases massively when systems such as Kinnoull Street are used, but almost entirely disappear when equivalent systems such as Bristol Eye Hospital are used. Parking fee revenue  - payment for time parked - remains the same in both cases, so the profit to the operator is entirely dependent on the type of system used.)

A very telling comment was made by Derek Mackay, The Minister for Transport and Islands.
If companies kept to the code of conduct and companies acted ethically and responsibly I would have more comfort. 
No doubt he had in mind one or more of the following

Civil Enforcement Limited - currently being prosecuted in Aberdeen for misleading consumers
UK Parking Control - for faking timestamps on photographs
Smart Parking - for introducing systems designed to drive up parking charges
UKCPS - for charging £275 debt collection charges
ParkingEye - for repeatedly creating entrapment zones with signage
Excel Parking and Vehicle Control Services - for regularly providing false information to the Independent Appeals Service

The Prankster leaves you with the closing words of Mr Mackay

Every member so far has given an accurate appraisal of how their constituents have been affected, which is why we must look closely at what Parliament will be able to do. As minister, I want to send a strong message. We need clear signage and a fair and consistent approach that treats people reasonably. We need companies not to pretend that people have breached the law and for them therefore to face all sorts of penalties should they not comply. Fines should be capped at a reasonable level and the CAS guidance should be acknowledged. We will move forward to ensure that people are treated more fairly, which is the essence of the CAS campaign.
As a Scottish Government minister I cannot say, “Don’t pay the fine.” It would be irresponsible of me to give that message. However, if people check their legal rights and responsibilities, many will realise that they have not breached what they think they may have breached. My advice is that people should check their rights, check the law, seek representation and do the right thing.
The Scottish Government will take on board all today’s comments and convey them to all the operators. We will strive for a fairer, more transparent and more reasonable approach, so that no one is unfairly charged to the point at which they are being caused anxiety and financial loss.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster


  1. Scots have more balls than Whitehall/DVLA lickspittle cowards

  2. The Scottish Courts also rightly recognised that clamping is demanding money with menaces & outlawed the practice.

  3. > I cannot say, “Don’t pay the fine.”

    Pay the what?

    > check the law

    Physician, heal thyself.

    1. Sorry, I was unclear (it may be catching).

      This is a lawmaker debating about the propensity for parking muggers to try and flim-flam motorists by pretending that they're issuing statutorily enforceable demands for payment.

      He's then himself conflated a demand for money over a contractual dispute with a "fine"! What hope is there for Jock Motorist?

  4. They seem to think that only the BPA and POPLA exist for appellants. Have they not yet heard of the PPC cop out adjudicator that the worst PPC's have deserted to?. Only a truly independent adjudicator could be worthy of presenting to the public for fair hearings and if they have any sense they would rule out the IAS.
    Without properly considered attention to the background details of the way that PPC's and the adjudicators work they may just stir up a real hornets nest for the future that they can't just swat out of existence as being a mistake or oversight on their part.