How to take charge of council parking tickets

parking ticketOne of the most annoying things known to drivers everywhere. You approach your car or motorbike and you see that ticket. If you are human your heart sinks and you probably swear, at least under your breath. Then, it is quite possible that you get angry. Either because it’s your own fault and you are berating yourself or you don’t think the ticket is fair. In this second instance, appeal.

Council parking tickets
You can only appeal if you think that the fine has been placed unfairly, not if you have just been unlucky and caught out. So, for example, reasons for appeal may be that the sign giving times was obscured, bay markings not clear, or you may dispute where the car was parked. As soon as you see that you have the ticket, take photographic evidence. Pictures of your car, the signage, the markings, the meter time or anything else that you dispute all help your appeal. As do witness statements and other evidence, such as crime numbers proving that your car was stolen, DVLA documents showing change of ownership etc.

Unfortunately one can now get tickets through the post, so getting photographic evidence might be more difficult. However, under new rules from 6th April 2015, English councils may only use cameras to enforce parking outside school entrances, and on bus stop clearways. This follows concerns that the use of the ‘spy’ camera-cars were being abused, for what critics said, bordered on ‘entrapment’ on high streets.

For tickets from 6th April 2015 local authorities in England must give 10 minutes grace for motorists overstaying in parking bays in council run car-parks and on the street. The rules do not apply to parking on single or double yellow lines, in front of dropped kerbs or in permit bays. Nor does the 10 minute ‘grace’ period apply if a driver has yet to buy a ticket and fix a ticket on the windscreen but has instead left the car and gone off to a shop to find change.

You have 28 days in which to pay but this is halved if paid within 14 days (21 for tickets issued using CCTV). So if you are going to pay, pay within this time. However, if you appeal within this time and your appeal is not upheld you should be able to pay the lower rate. Make sure that you ask for the fine to be put on hold when you appeal.

Follow the tips but remember this isn’t strictly a complaint!

Check the council’s website for more information and you may be able to appeal online. If not, do it by letter.

Reasons for appealing a council parking ticket
The contravention did not occur – where signage was blocked, faded or tampered with. You were on way to get a ticket (although this is normally only a few minutes leeway) or it was an eager beaver warden giving you a ticket before the time ran out.

The penalty exceeded the amount applicable in the circumstances of the case – This is unlikely through a council issued ticket as prices are standard and you can check these against the council website.

The traffic order is invalid – You believe the parking restriction in question is invalid or illegal. For example, if the council has not followed the correct procedure for passing the traffic order.

The civil enforcement officer (CEO) was prevented from issuing the Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) – You disagree that the CEO was prevented from issuing the PCN.

You were not the owner/keeper of the vehicle at the time of the contravention – You did not own the vehicle when the PCN was issued.

The vehicle was taken without your consent – The vehicle had been stolen when the PCN was issued.

You are a hire firm and have supplied the name of the hirer – You are a hire company and the hirer has signed a formal agreement accepting liability for the PCN. You must enclose the name and address of the hirer and a copy of the statement they signed

The notice to owner (NtO) was served out of time – You feel that there has been an unreasonable delay (or at least 6 months) in issuing the NtO.

There has been a procedural impropriety by the council – the council must provide the following detail in the NtO; the date it is served; name of the enforcement authority; registration of the vehicle; date and the time the alleged contravention occurred; why the ticket has been issued; amount of the penalty charge; that the penalty charge must be paid within 28 days; that if the penalty charge is paid within 14 days the fine will be reduced and how to pay the charge; if the charge is not paid within 28 days, a ‘Notice to Owner’ form will be sent to the vehicle owner; that you can appeal within the first 28 days and how you need to make the appeal, including the address (and email and fax if appropriate) that appeals should be sent to; the grounds under which you can make an appeal, and that if your formal appeal is made on time but is rejected that you can appeal to an adjudicator. For posted tickets the rules are broadly similar but must include why the PCN has been posted and the date of the notice which must be the date it is posted.

Reasons for appealing a parking ticket using mitigating circumstances
You can also appeal using mitigating circumstances. You are admitting to parking illegally but providing reasons for doing so. For example, you were on holiday when a bay you were permitted to park in was suspended. So send evidence of flights, or death certificates if a bereavement, or doctor’s letter if you were sick. Some councils may allow your appeal if you are in financial hardship but you will need to provide evidence for this and you will be relying on someone’s good nature.

When your appeal is not upheld
If your letter at the informal stage has failed you do have the option of carrying onto the formal second stage. Whilst 50% of appeals are upheld at this stage, strongly consider if you want to proceed as you risk higher costs.

So, if the appeal was not upheld or you didn’t appeal within the 28 days you will be sent a request for payment and an appeal form. You have another 28 days to pay or appeal bearing in mind that the fine could go up another 50%. When you receive the Notice to Owner letter, it must be accurate and include: the date of the notice, which must be the date on which the notice is posted; the name of the enforcement authority; the amount of the penalty charge; the date on which the Penalty Charge Notice was served; why the ticket has been issued; that the charge must be paid within 28 days; that if the charge is not paid in that time it can be increased and the amount of the increased charge. The NtO must be sent within six months of the ticket to be valid.

Councils must respond within 56 days of receiving your formal appeal otherwise the penalty is unenforceable.

If your appeal is not upheld then you can go to tribunal. It is independent and you don’t even have to attend. You can request a telephone or personal hearing but usually a letter with all the evidence is fine. It isn’t like the Small Claims Court, it is free to attend. The adjudicator will not have seen anything of the case so ensure that you fully fill out the form that you will be sent and re send all the evidence you can fully fill out the form that you will be sent and re send all the evidence you can.

Example of appealing a parking ticket here.

This clip shows you an amusing way to appeal here though – I defy you not to laugh.

More details regarding clamping, private land and template letters in the book.

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4 Responses to How to take charge of council parking tickets

  1. Pingback: How Not to Pay a Parking Ticket Fine #STOM | Johnny Debt

  2. Pingback: 9 ways that the high street and small biz are being killed

  3. Dr Vrijraj Sinhji H S Rathod says:

    Dear Sir, I need you help and guidance. My penalty charge appeal was received by the Newham council on 30th May 2017. They rejected the representation and sent me a letter dated 7th August 2017, after 65 days. My understanding is that if the authorities did not reply within 56 days, they cannot enforce to collect the penalty charge. What do I do now?
    I thank you
    Dr V S H S Rathod

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