A crackdown on “dodgy” parking operators will prevent them from fining drivers and potentially push them out of the industry unless they follow stringent rules.
Sajid Javid has confirmed he will back a bill brought by former minister Sir Greg Hands which seeks to provide “fair, clear and consistent” regulation in the parking industry, and allow a clampdown on “unscrupulous and aggressive” parking operators.
Parking firms falling foul of the new rules will lose access to the driver database allowing them to issue fines, effectively forcing them out of the industry.
There are 13 times more tickets being issued compared to a decade ago, and nearly 10,000 people approached Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) for guidance on tickets last year.
Motorists say problems include substandard signage, inconsistent practices, confusing appeals processes and intimidating payment letters.
Mr Javid said: “For too long, drivers have suffered from unjust fines at the hands of dodgy parking firms.
“We need a fairer, clearer and more consistent system that brings the small minority of unscrupulous operators in line with those who are behaving appropriately.
“That is why Government is putting the brakes on these rogue operators and backing new laws that will put a stop to aggressive behaviour and provide a simpler way for drivers to appeal fines.”
The bill is due for its second reading and the backing of the communities secretary will effectively confirm its passage into law.
Mr Javid will develop the code of practice with motoring groups and experts.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “We all hoped the ban on clamping would end the sharp practices that had come to plague private parking, but the fact that companies are issuing millions of penalty tickets annually is clear evidence that something is still going badly awry.
“Drivers don’t want a parking free-for-all, but they do want a system that is fair to all parties and that’s what a code of practice set by Government – rather than the industry itself – should bring about.”
Andrew Pester, chief executive of the British Parking Association, said: “We welcome Sir Greg’s Bill. Our membership already complies with a robust code of practice which we continuously seek to improve through consultation.
“A single, mandatory code of practice across the whole sector is important to ensure that unscrupulous providers don’t undermine the parking sector with bad practice.”