New private parking code of practice to govern UK car parks

Private car parks across the UK are set to undergo significant changes with the introduction of a new set of rules scheduled to be enforced later this year.

The initiative, championed by the British Parking Association (BPA) and the International Parking Community (IPC), aims to provide drivers with a unified framework governing private parking facilities.

Key features of the new code include a mandatory 10-minute grace period for parking charge notices (PCNs), standardized signage and regulations, establishment of a transparent Appeals Charter for contesting fines, and the formation of an oversight group to ensure compliance with the regulations by parking management entities.

The BPA has highlighted its commitment to advocating for Blue Badge holders, emphasizing efforts to deter selfish parking practices that prioritize individual convenience over the rights of others.

Scheduled for full publication in June of this year, the Private Parking Code of Practice will be implemented in October.

While existing car parks have until 2026 to align their signage and procedures with the new standards, new facilities established after October must adhere to the prescribed requirements from the outset.

Non-compliance with the new regulations carries significant repercussions, including expulsion from the BPA, which is the sole gateway to accessing the DVLA’s KADOE service.

This service enables operators to identify vehicle owners and issue fines.

Andrew Pester, Chief Executive of the BPA, views the implementation of a comprehensive industry-wide code of practice as a significant milestone towards achieving fairer and more consistent parking standards, in collaboration with government bodies and consumer advocates.

While a bill to establish an official Parking Code of Practice received Royal Assent in 2019, the government temporarily withdrew its draft regulations in 2022 following concerns raised by the BPA regarding proposed changes to PCN fines and the elimination of debt recovery fees.

The BPA’s new regulations purportedly incorporate key aspects of the government’s original plan, with a commitment to ongoing updates and maintenance of the code.

However, critics, including Simon Williams, Head of Policy for the RAC, have raised objections, citing the omission of critical issues such as caps on penalty charges and debt recovery fees that are essential for protecting drivers from exploitation.

RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: “We’re flabbergasted that the BPA and IPC have suddenly announced plans to introduce their own ‘private parking code’ after doing all they can over the last five years to prevent the official Government Code created by an Act of Parliament coming into force.

“While there are clearly some positive elements to what the private parking industry is proposing, it conveniently avoids some of the biggest issues around caps on penalty charges and debt recovery fees which badly need to be addressed to prevent drivers being taken advantage of.

“These elements, alongside a formal appeals process, are currently being worked on by the Government and in our opinion can’t come soon enough.

“Nothing should stand in the way of the official Code, least of all a new industry scheme which muddies the waters and risks confusing drivers.

“For the private parking industry to all of a sudden paint themselves as being whiter than white with their own ‘code’ and appeals charter takes irony to another level.”

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