There’s nothing better at ruining you day than coming back to your car to find a yellow sticker on the screen. Nobody wants to shell out for a parking ticket – especially when the charges seem extortionate.
Parking tickets can be issued by the council for cars parked in public areas, such as on a road or in a car park run by the council. They could also be issued by the police, for example if you park illegally on white zig-zags or ignore a double-yellow line. Finally, private companies may also issue a ticket if you park on their land – for example, in a dedicated parking area, or restaurant car park.
Is it a fake?
Some fraudsters use bogus tickets to trick motorists into coughing up cash. Check the address or payment instructions on your ticket and, if you’re unsure, contact your local council, police or Citizens Advice Bureau to check whether the ticket is genuine.
Is it fair?
There are many reasons why you may wish to appeal a parking ticket. If you think the ticket has been issued unfairly – for example, if the yellow line you parked on wasn’t clearly marked, or the fact that parking was prohibited wasn’t clearly signed – it’s a good idea to take pictures of anything that might help with your appeal: for example, a sign obscured by foliage or worn yellow paint on the road surface.
If there are any witnesses, you might want to get their details so that they can support your case if needed. And if your car has broken down, keep hold of any documents – like an invoice from a tow company or details of an insurance claim – as these may well help you to appeal your fine.
Then write to your local council explaining your situation clearly. Make sure you include any photos or evidence and any references from the ticket. According to Citizens Advice Bureau, you usually have 14 days from when you were given the ticket to do this (21 days if it was sent in the post).
Paying up, paying less
If the ticket was issued fairly, it’s a good idea to pay up quickly. Companies often charge less if a fine is paid within 14 days of issue, so you could save yourself a few quid – check the details on the ticket to confirm.
What if it’s rejected?
The Council will send a letter to confirm whether your fine has been waived. But even if they reject your claim it’s not the end of the road. You can still make a formal appeal – and details of how to do this should be enclosed in the council’s letter. Unfortunately, if this is also rejected, it’s time to put your hand in your pocket, as further refusal may lead to court action against you.
Appealing a private parking ticket
Because there are lots of companies operating parking facilities in the UK, these sorts of appeal are less straightforward. However, tickets will usually have details on how to appeal, so – after checking the ticket is genuine – follow the instructions, making sure you include any evidence.
If this appeal is rejected, it might be time to pay up. But it’s worth checking whether your car park operator is a member of a professional trade body such as BPA or IPC. These organisations have their own appeal processes to follow, with information on their relevant websites.
It’s also worth having a chat with the owner of the premises at which you parked – perhaps a hospital, supermarket or restaurant. They may agree that the fine has been issued unfairly and intervene on your behalf.
What if I am still rejected?
Some choose to ignore tickets issued by private companies, although this is not recommended. The company may decide to take you to a small claims court, and you could end up paying additional costs.
The good news
If you have a genuine reason to complain, the odds of success are stacked in your favour. According to information on Money Saving Expert, recent figures show that when it came to council-issued tickets “56% of motorists who went to the official, independent appeals body won.”