Parking in public car parks can sometimes be extremely awkward for van owners, as many are not designed for vehicles that are over a certain size. Not only can it be difficult to manoeuvre around a car park, but finding a space big enough for a van can also be a problem, and there have been many instances of people claiming on their van insurance due to the fact they have had a knock or scrape whilst trying to park.
One man from Bourne End, Buckinghamshire has also been frustrated with parking facilities in his local area recently as he was issued a parking ticket due to the fact that his vehicle took up two spaces. The owner of the vehicle, 46 year old Tim Haines, left his ‘Dial a Dog Wash’ van in the Wakeman Road car park in Bourne End, and due to the fact the spaces were so small he had to park over two parking spaces in order to fit. Mr Haines bought a ticket to display in the front of his van, however the council has said that as he took up two spaces he should have bought two tickets, even though the end of his car was only slightly over the second space.
Discussing the fine, Mr Haines said: “Even if the back was in the space the front of the van would then stick out. I’ve not had any problems before and I just couldn’t believe I got the penalty. They mentioned that I should have purchased two tickets and when I wrote to them to say that it doesn’t say that on the sign, they said I should have phoned. Do you not think that this is ridiculous?”
Mr Haines tried to appeal for the twenty five pound fine to be reversed, however Wycombe District Council refused and said: “If a vehicle is not able to park within a marked bay alternative arrangements should be sought. It is stated on the tariff board that parking beyond the bay markings is an offence for which a penalty charge can be issued. On occasion when oversized vehicles are parked, a ticket should be obtained for each bay that the vehicle occupies, either partially or completely, and then all tickets should be displayed in the vehicle.”
Holders of commercial vehicle insurance policies are amongst the thousands of motorists successfully appealing against parking fines in Northern Ireland.
Figures show almost 60% of motorists who protest against a parking fine in the Province are successful and now questions are being asked in the Northern Ireland Assembly as to why traffic wardens appear to be handing out so many disputable parking tickets. Van drivers, business owners and local people heading into town to go shopping are all suffering at the hands of the zealous wardens but there are fears that the ticketing policy is driving the Province into an economic downturn. The proliferation of tickets and subsequent appeals has certainly led to arguments in Stormont with one Minister saying the policy was driving business away from the town and city centres. While another said that the successful appeals prove the system works and that anyone who has been falsely ticketed is not losing out financially.
The bare facts show that in the last 12 months parking wardens handed out just over 32,000 tickets for offences such as parking on yellow lines, parking in disabled spaces and over staying the allotted time where there is on street parking. Approximately 4000 motorists appealed against the fines with well over 2000 being successful. It appears that traffic wardens have been too quick to ticket people over staying their welcome at on-street parking venues.
Glyn Roberts from the Northern Ireland Retail Trade Association says it is time that Ministers met with local business men to iron out the problems. He explained: “The overall system does need to be looked at. At the moment there are different regimes in different towns. For the last six months we have been hearing from traders in many towns that traffic wardens seem to be on a ‘get tough’ policy.”
He then went on to add: “In particular, they do not seem to be adhering to the 10-minute grace period, the time normally allowed after a ticket has run out, and I would say that is the basis on which a lot of these appeals are being allowed.”
Motorists who receive a parking ticket will now get the chance to see the evidence taken by the ticket warden online within 24 hours of the ticket being issued.
Van drivers will be able to go online and look at pictures before deciding whether to pay the fine or appeal after a London Council launched the unique technology last week. Motorists throughout Twickenham feel the scheme is a good idea because by seeing the evidence it will save time and money on a pointless appeal. Nobody likes getting a parking ticket but at least this way, drivers can now see why it has been issued almost straight away.
Lord True, leader of Richmond Council, added “For too long, councils have seen motorists as sheep to fleece. Too many still act in a predatory and money grabbing way. We are absolutely determined to change this in Richmond. At the moment you don’t get any immediate feedback so yes I think it’s a good idea. It will be easier to appeal it if there are any problems with the evidence. Sometimes traffic wardens give tickets unfairly when they don’t know the rules.”
Company owners with vans covered by commercial vehicle insurance are also pleased about the new scheme as they hope to use the pictures to teach drivers how to avoid what is an unwanted expense in the current climate. If the scheme is successful it is hoped that more councils in the country will follow Richmond who are also going to pilot their new “RichmondCards” scheme from Friday until the end of August. The card scheme will give holders half an hour free parking at all council car parks and street bays, with a 10% discount available on a longer stay. They will hand out 10,000 trial cards at their buildings, car parks and any meetings with local residents.
Figures released by the body that handles parking fine appeals across the UK show that motorists, including van drivers, are contributing more to council coffers via parking tickets than ever before.
The Traffic Penalty Tribunal which oversees appeals against parking fines throughout the country, with the exception of London, reports that councils in England and Wales issued over 4 million tickets in the 12 months leading up to March 2009, the latest data available. The figure is a dramatic increase on previous figures and is almost double the amount of those issued as recently as 2001 a fact put down to councils taking over parking control from the police.
The number of van drivers actually featured in the data is unknown but many professional drivers now openly admit that parking fines collected while performing their daily duties are becoming more expensive than their commercial vehicle insurance policy and there is little they can do about it. Motoring organisations throughout the UK are united in complaining about the level of penalties being handed out and a number are deeply suspicious that local authorities are using parking fines to bolster the civic coffers.
Stephen Glaister, a traffic expert working for the RAC Foundation, noted that “The law does not allow local authorities to use parking as a means of making money – however hard pressed their budgets. Local authorities that are showing a big surplus in their parking budgets should look carefully at every area of their operation – particularly in the back office where challenges are considered.”
In fact more than 14,000 parking tickets were contested by those unfortunate to have been handed fines with over half of the motorists winning their case and having their fines quashed.
A spokesman for the Local Government Associations Economy and Transport board denied they were using motorists as a “cash cow” saying: “We know parking restrictions are never going to popular but these restrictions are in place to keep people safe, keep traffic moving and ensure parking spaces are available to those who need them. Any money received from parking fines has to be spent on transport improvements which benefit motorists, pedestrians and other road users.”
Van drivers in the East Midlands are being left confused and in some cases out of pocket by parking regulations.
It appears that signs in the car parks of East Midlands town Ilkeston, have completely baffled market traders, shop owners and delivery drivers as they have been given parking tickets even though they have paid to park in them.
John Green, a delivery driver in the town, said vans were being ticketed in Queens Street car park in September even though they had paid to park, he explained “I knew that a vans commercial vehicle insurance was different to ordinary car insurance but didn’t realise a light goods tax disc could stop you parking in a council car park.”
The story was picked up by shop owner, Danny Tyldesley, who said “I need my van for work; I can’t run my business without it. I’ve been parking it in the car park on Queens Street for ages without problem. But then I was told by other traders that vehicles with light goods tax discs had started being given tickets.”
The sign in the car parks actually reads ‘parking a vehicle not taxed as light goods vehicle’ under the heading, ‘Contraventions subject to £70/£50 charge’.
Mr Tyldesley believes the signs are misleading and said “The sign doesn’t make sense, the way its written says to me that it’s okay for light goods vehicles to park here but not other vehicles. I’m not asking for free parking, I’ve been happily paying to park here until now.”
Apparently traffic wardens are no longer giving out tickets to van drivers but the council have still to make the position clear. In the meantime light goods vehicle drivers are hoping they can pursue their businesses without the threat of fines hanging over them.
A London council have managed to upset van drivers, the company they work for and the general public at large with their policy on issuing parking tickets to a firm responsible for an unusual cargo.
Croydon Council parking attendants are issuing tickets to prison vans delivering and picking up prisoners outside Croydon County Court and although the council says it has only issued two tickets to prison vans, court employees say that vans are ticketed on a daily basis.
Serco, the company involved say, like their cargo, their hands are tied. The company insist they have to park as close as possible to the county court to facilitate a secure and speedy service so court business is not delayed. Furthermore the van drivers and escort staff have to stay with prisoners until they are dealt with by the court.
They went on to say that although they are working on government business, they have to pay the fines the same as any other business with a company spokesman adding “We would appeal to a local authority where this a lack of appropriate parking nearby to engage with us to find a local solution to allow efficient use of courts whilst minimising any disruption to local communities.”
Consumer group the National Taxpayers Alliance were infuriated by the information, a spokesman declaring “It is obviously ridiculous that with one arm our government is giving another arm parking tickets. The only people who are losing out are the tax payers, who are being made to suffer as a result of the stupidity of public officials.”
Fortunately for the van drivers involved the parking tickets will not adversely affect their commercial vehicle insurance.