Parking is the bane of every driver’s life. From finding an car park with spaces, or having to remortgage your house in order to pay for said parking, it certainly comes with its stresses. We can all agree that the absolute worst thing that comes with parking when you walk up to your car and spot that bright yellow ticket on your windscreen.
According to Westminster Council, one parking ticket is issued every four seconds in the UK, and it is thought that millions of these parking tickets are illegally issued. What are the legalities surrounding parking tickets, and when do drivers actually have to pay?
First things first, if you want to appeal a parking ticket, do not pay it. You shouldn’t pay a parking ticket before you appeal it. As soon as you pay the issued parking fine, you’re admitting that you were in the wrong and that the parking warden was right to issue said ticket.
When Should You Pay Your Parking Ticket?
- What are the different types of parking tickets?
- When can I Appeal a Parking Ticket?
- How to Appeal a PCN or ECN from the Council
- What happens if my Council appeal is rejected?
- How to appeal a Parking Charge Notice
- What if my informal appeal is rejected?
- What if my car has been clamped?
- How to Appeal a Fixed Penalty Notice
- What if my fixed penalty informal appeal is rejected?
What are the different types of parking tickets?
- Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) or Excess Charge Notice (ECN) from the council – a PCN is a ticket that is issued on public land, for example, on a high street or in a council car park.
- Parking Charge Notice from a landowner or parking company – A parking charge notice is issued on private land, such as a supermarket car park.
- Fixed Penalty Notice from the police – A fixed penalty notice is issued on red routes, white zig zags or where the police manages parking.
When you receive your parking ticket or letter, it will state which category the fine falls under, which will determine how you can appeal your parking ticket.
When can I Appeal a Parking Ticket?
If you believe that the parking warden was wrong in issuing the ticket you can appeal it if;
- You think you were parked correctly,
- You think you were parked within the time limit,
- There were no signs or the signage was unclear.
According to rule 240 – 244 of the Highway Code, it is illegal to stop or park on the following;
- The hard shoulder or carriageway of a motorway, except in case of emergency or breakdown.
- A pedestrian crossing.
- Double white lines, even when a broken white line is on your side of the road.
- A tram lane, cycle lane, bus stop or taxi rank.
- Spaces reserved for specific users such as blue badge holders or residents.
- In a position that causes obstruction or danger to the road.
- Near a school entrance.
- Anywhere that will prevent access for emergency services.
- On the approach to a level crossing.
- Within 10 metres of a junction.
- Near the brow of a hump bridge or hull.
- On a pavement in London.
You can find out more about the UK’s parking restrictions here.
When you go to appeal your parking ticket, you should have evidence to support your claim, as this will help to waive the parking fine. If you didn’t break the parking rules and can prove this, then a PCN and ECN issued on public land must be cancelled. You should always send copies instead of originals when it comes to providing evidence, just incase it is lost in the post…
Appealing a PCN or ECN from the Council
Appealing a council issued PCN and ECN is free to do, and if you genuinely believe you have a reason to do so, then it is worth trying. To appeal a council issued PCN or ECN for parking, you need to take the following steps.
For a PCN issued by the council relating to a ‘moving traffic offence’, such as driving through a no entry sign, you need to go to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal website if the offence happened outside of London or the London Tribunals website if the offence happened in London, in order to appeal.
You can also write to the council clearly explaining why you object. This process is called making an informal appeal, and you have 14 days to make an informal appeal from when you were given the notice, or 21 days if your notice was sent by post.
Remember, evidence is key.
Include any evidence you have, because this will give you a greater chance of success. The evidence should be any of the following:
- A valid pay and display ticket with the time and date relating to the offence.
- Photos showing there were no road markings restricting parking.
- Photos of signs that are difficult to see or understand.
- A letter from someone who was with you, stating what happened – ‘Witness statement’ should be written at the top of the letter.
- A repair note, if your car broke down.
Make sure you include:
- the date the ticket was issued
- your address
- your vehicle registration number
- the penalty notice number
Your PCN or ECN will be cancelled if your appeal is successful.
What happens if my Council appeal is rejected?
If your informal appeal is rejected, you’ll be sent a form and a letter which is called a ‘notice to owner’.
You will then have 28 days to make a formal appeal, known as ‘making formal representations’ which is free to do. The process on how to do this will be on the notice to owner. If you pay within good time after an informal appeal is rejected, you might receive a 50% discount. If the council have had a strong reason to object your appeal, the it is a good idea to pay the fine.
If your formal appeal is rejected, you’ll be sent a letter called a ‘notice of rejection’. You can challenge the council’s decision at an independent tribunal, which is free to do. You do not need to attend the tribunal as you can submit your reasons and evidence in writing. If you get a notice of rejection, it will give details of how to appeal to an independent tribunal.
Unlike a PCN, you can’t appeal an ECN any further.
If your formal appeal against an ECN is rejected, you should pay it straight away. If you refuse to pay, the council could take you to court, therefore affecting your credit rating and incurring even more fines and costs.
Appealing a Parking Charge Notice
If you want to appeal a PCN that wasn’t issued by the council you should check if a parking company is an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) member.
You can do this by checking the British Parking Association (BPA) or International Parking Community (IPC) websites. It will tell you if the parking company is an ATA member. If you can’t access the website, you can call the BPA on 01444 447 300 to find out if the company belongs to the ATA.
If the company belongs to the ATA you should contact the parking company.
Their details will be on the BPA, IPC or PCN. Your parking ticket will have the company’s terms and conditions of how you should go about appealing. You should make an informal complaint directly to the business, and include any of the following;
- A valid pay and display ticket relating to the issued parking fine.
- Photos of signs that are distorted or hard to understand, or where the information is misleading.
- A letter from someone who was with you saying what happened – ‘Witness statement’ should be written at the top of the letter.
- A repair note, if your car broke down.
What happens if the company isn’t an ATA member?
If you’ve been issued a parking ticket from a company that doesn’t belong to the ATA then do not pay the ticket.
Non ATA members cannot take you to court as they’re unable to retrieve your details from the DVLA. The only way they can chase you for a parking ticket is if you’ve given them your address, or they’ve obtained it illegally. If this is the case, then report them to Action Fraud.
What happens If my informal appeal is rejected?
If your informal appeal is rejected, you should go to the Independent Appeals Service – it is free to do, so it’s worth trying if you believe your ticket was unfairly issued. The Independent Appeals Service may disagree with the company which could result in your ticket being cancelled. However, your ticket won’t be cancelled because of an unexpected event, for example if you were delayed because you were feeling unwell.
The way to go about making a formal appeal is dependant on whether the company is a member of the BPA or IPC approved operators scheme.
If they’re a BPA parking company, you should take your formal appeal to the Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA). A formal appeal to the Independent Appeals Service should be made if they’re an IPC member. You can find out more about it here.
If your formal appeal is rejected you should pay your parking ticket. If you don’t, you may incur additional costs due to being summoned to court.
What do I do if my car has been clamped?
A clamped car is risky business. If you’ve found your car has been clamped, first things first you should check that it is from the police, the council, the DVLA, or a private company acting on their behalf. These entities are the only ones who have authority to clamp your car on private land.
If you’ve been clamped by a private landowner or company working for them, you should call the Police on 101. Don’t try to remove the clamp yourself as you may damage your wheel, and you could be taken to court for criminal damage. The police will remove the clamp.
Appealing a Fixed Penalty Notice
If you’ve been issued a fixed penalty notice, you should check to see whether it was issued by the council or the police. To make an informal appeal you should write to them and clearly explain why you object to the penalty notice. The following evidence should be included to back up your claim:
- A photo that shows the road markings or signs were confusing.
- A letter from someone who was with you saying what happened – ‘Witness statement’ should be at the top of the letter.
- A repair note, if your car broke down.
You should include;
- The date the ticket was issued.
- Your address.
- Your vehicle registration number.
- The penalty notice number
If you are writing to the police, you should send your letter to the Central Ticket Office closest to where the notice was issued. You can check which offices accept informal appeals by calling the issuing police force.
If your ticket was issued by the council, you should write to the address on the letter.
What happens if my fixed penalty informal appeal is rejected?
If your informal appeal is rejected you’ll receive a letter stating that your notice will not be cancelled. If you don’t pay after an informal appeal is rejected, the only option is to ask for a hearing in a magistrates’ court, which could incur extra costs as your fine will increase by 50% should you lose.
If your appeal is successful, you’ll receive a refund for the Fixed Penalty Notice.