Vale of Clwyd MP Dr James Davies has welcomed the UK Government’s proposed introduction of a new nationwide system which will make paying for parking easier.
He had called for such measures in his submission to the Private Parking Code of Practice: Call for Evidence. James also raised a number of other issues in his submission to the Call for Evidence, following his survey on Parking Charge Notices (PCNs). He is grateful to all those who took the time to fill in this survey. Please find the full submission attached.
For many years, millions of motorists have suffered the frustration of trying to park and finding they need to download or update unfamiliar apps in order to pay.
In response to this, Richard Holden MP, UK Minister for Roads and Local Transport, recently announced that the Government is taking action through the creation of a National Parking Platform, which will connect together car parks up and down the country with all participating apps.
James’ response to the Call for Evidence on a Private Parking Code of Practice included:
"It would also be a good idea for those car parks with apps in place, to explore the possibility of aligning their apps. Drivers often have to download multiple different apps for different car parks in close proximity. A streamlined app would make it easier for motorists to pay, and have the benefit of allowing tickets to be extended if drivers realise they are at risk of overstaying their ticket.
"Our high streets and local businesses depend on good quality, accessible parking in order to thrive. Therefore, it is important to embrace a simpler, fairer and clearer system which ensures a sustainable balance between fairness and compliance for private parking companies.”
After the introduction of the National Parking Platform was announced, James said:
“These new arrangements will make paying for parking hassle-free, putting choice back in the hands of motorists by allowing drivers to use whichever app they like, in every participating area. It will be up to local authorities to decide if they wish to become members. I have written to Denbighshire County Council urging them to join, and highlighting the benefits – which include automating repetitive tasks and avoiding the need for repeated procurement exercises.
“This is the start of a stable, lasting change. The decision on whether to join the platform will be a local one and go-live dates in specific areas will depend in part on when existing contracts lapse.
“However, any council can become a member of the platform now, even before their existing pay-by-app contract expires. This way, the platform can put in place the measures needed, so they switch automatically to the new system when the moment comes.”
In his response to the Call for Evidence on a Private Parking Code of Practice, James also highlighted some of the problems his constituents are experiencing when parking in private car parks.
“In order to encourage people to use town centres more, it is vital that we ensure there is sufficient, affordable parking which is easy to access.
“In my response to the Call for Evidence on a Private Parking Code of Practice, I highlighted that the existing conduct of the vast majority of private car parking companies is fair and appears to fall within their existing code, but that, regrettably, this is not a universal theme across all private parking companies and the car parks they operate.
“I said that although we must be mindful that these private parking companies are offering a service to many businesses and communities and need to be able to continue to operate sustainably, it is important that their actions should be deemed proportionate and fair to the general public, and there must be an onus on facilitating easy to use car parks with clear and fair appeals systems.”
In his response, James referred to Morfa Hall car park in Rhyl, where he said “an abundance of problems have been reported and many perceived unfair Parking Charge Notices (PCNs) have been brought to my attention”.
“I have been assisting constituents in challenging contested PCNs individually. I am also very grateful to the private parking company operating this car park for liaising with me on making improvements to the car park to make it easier for motorists to use. I must stress that the problems encountered in this individual car park are not necessarily representative of issues with its operator specifically, but are representative of concerns with private parking arrangements in general. Thankfully, as a result of representations, better signage has been installed in this car park which has made it significantly easier to use for the general public.
“I understand one element of the Call for Evidence is looking at tackling confusing and misleading signage and, having seen the impact of better signage in this car park, I fully support these proposals.”
He also expressed concern over the length of time of the grace period on entering a car park, and referred to cases where drivers are being fined because there is not sufficient time for motorists to purchase a ticket or find a space; especially if machines are not working and the car park is full.