Sunday, 4 February 2018

Parking Bill moves to next stage. Will Hurley and John Davies's use of obfuscation techniques found out.

On Friday Sir Greg Knight's Parking Bill passed the second reading and now moves to committee stage. If all goes to plan it should reach the next stage around October.

The proposed bill can be found here

The bill's progress can be monitored here.

Hansard's copy of the Friday's debate can be found here.

The bill aims to impose a common code of practice and regulated appeals system across the parking industry. As Sir Greg Knight put it;

Motorists should have the certainty that when they enter a car park on private land, 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 an opaque appeals process, together with some motorists being hit with a fine for just driving in and out of a car park without stopping, have no place in 21st-century Britain.

The debate was a one sided affair with no dissenters and MPs from all sides of the house and around the country lining up to expose the scams and dirty practices of the parking industry.

There were a number of choice quotes.
“These people are the John Wayne of the cowboys”
 “The BPA are as much use as a multi-storey car park in the Gobi Desert”
 “This Bill will mark the beginning of the end of these parasites”
 “This industry is like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank”

Some of the scams which have come to the notice of MPs include:

  • Parking companies failing to reply to correspondence
  • Confusion "marketing"; signs that advertise different terms and condition for the same car park - only one of which is correct
  • Using small signs mounted so high up motorists are likely to miss them - especially disabled motorists; using font too small for motorists to read
  • Obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception.; deliberately breaching the code of practice; cancelling charges when the motorist appeals, but not correcting the problem and continuing to accept payments from other motorists for the same event
  • repeated issuing of charges to individuals parking in their own parking space outside their property
  • repeat ticketing of motorists away on holiday
  • ticketing residents before they have been informed a new scheme is in place
  • stopping in an empty lay-by for 15 seconds to check satellite navigation settings
  • using the term PCN and the mimicking of police tickets or court documents to deceive motorists into thinking they have received a statutory parking fine.
  • charging motorists for mis-keyed their number plate into an automatic machine when the parking company has a record of all vehicles currently in the car park
  • failing to maintain payment machines then charging motorists when the machines do not work
  • Advertising phone numners which do not work; are not answered; or are too complicated.
  • Only accepting payment by app
  • Acting in a predatory fashion at hospitals
  • Making it hard to get parking permits for a change of car
  • targeting of taxi drivers picking up passengers from retail parks
  • disparity between the ease with which a roboclaim company can file a bogus claim compared to the cost of defending it
  • lack of transparency of hotspots where large numbers of charges are issued
  • charging customers for temporarily leaving a retail park
  • The grossly invasive, threatening and wholly inappropriate use of debt collection companies
  • Offering free parking with hidden terms and conditions designed only to trigger charges
  • Issuing charges to people who decide not to park
The Prankster has seen all these practices and confirms they are in common use. The Prankster receives 10-20 emails a day on these themes.

Prankster Notes

There are a large number of parking companies, and although no-one likes receiving a parking charge, most of these companies act responsibility and very rarely feature in the Prankster's email inbox. When they do, the companies involved very often accept the charge is not valid and cancel the charge.

However, there are a few companies who crop up time after time. they act in a predatory and unfair fashion. Names highlighted in the debate include Premier Parking Solutions, Premier Park Ltd, Link Parking, New Generation Parking, UK Parking Control and ParkingEye, and these correspond closely with the problem companies from the Prankster's postbag. Other problem companies include Excel Parking/Vehicle Control Services. These were not mentioned by name, but cases involving them were highlighted in the debate. 

Smart Parking, were mentioned as a company that blights communities throughout Scotland. Their activities hit England and Wales as well.

Rogue solicitor firm Gladstones Solicitors were mentioned; the MP in question had referred them to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority for investigation. It did not escape the MP's notice that the directors of Gladstones had tries to obfuscate their association with the International Parking Community by repeated changes of names and address. 

The Prankster notes that although the obvious conflict of interest was highlighted by MPs, the DVLA have already investigated this relationship and for some unaccountable reason found there was no conflict. noted. Apparently the DVLA see no problem with "putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank."

Genuine parking companies have nothing to fear from this bill. In fact, they stand to gain because removing the bottom feeding practices means a level playing field for all companies.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster