With the government rapidly loosing the battle over speed cameras, the latest campaign in their war on drivers in taking place on another battlefield — the parking space.
At Birmingham City Council's Transport Summit in October 1998, Lynn Sloman of the anti-car lobby group Transport 2000 which is funded by bus and rail companies, said that the best means of stopping people using cars was to “take away the parking space at the end of the journey”.
Staggeringly, some politicians have actually listened to this inane ranting and are actively doing just this.
“We have a duty as laid down by Central government to discourage
motorists and to encourage the use of public transport.”
Team Manager, Parking Infrastructure, Community Services Department,
London Borough of Croydon
In a letter about parking to our Local Co-ordinator for Croydon, January 2009.
- Motorists paid over £1.2 billion in parking charges in 2005. (Daily Telegraph)
- Motorists paid £165M in fines in 2002. (Privilege Insurance)
- There are only 2 million car park spaces for 32 million drivers. (Privilege Insurance)
- Government revenue from parking charges is 50% more than when Labour came to power.
- In 2003 government spent just £29m on parking provision, compared with £48m on helping cyclists and £75m on pedestrians. (RAC Foundation)
- 1 in 10 drivers has received at least one fine in 2002. (Privilege Insurance)
- London councils issued 4.9 million tickets in 2002, and a record 5.3 million tickets in 2003, sufficient to raise £193 million in fines.
- A record seven million parking tickets worth £280 million were issued in the financial year 2002/3.
- In 2002/3 Birmingham City Council hit motorists with 450 tickets a day, a total of 164000, raising more than £4 million.
- In 2005, twelve hospital trusts each raised over £1 million from parking charges.
Most local council websites have information about parking in their area — it's essential to cope with all the complaints. See our Local Issues pages for links to council websites.
This is the 'nice' name the government have given to their latest anti-driver scam. We have re-christended it 'POPE' (Profit Orientated Parking Enforcement).
Under this latest anti-car policy, the enforcement of parking regulations has been taken away from traffic wardens employed by the police, and handed to local authorities. Many local authorities have in turn delegated it to money-grabbing private companies. If you thought the old traffic wardens were bad, wait 'til you fall victim to this lot. The name "decriminalized" is somewhat ironic, as a bigger bunch of crooks you have yet to meet.
In March 2004, roads minister David Jamieson announced that a new statutory code of conduct for traffic enforcers is to be introduced. This is a postive step, but it remains to be seen whether it will have any effect. Of course, if the government hadn't deliberately created the problem in the first place...
In October 2004, it was announced that parking enforcers would no longer be targetted to issue a certain number of tickets. Instead bonuses will relate to reducing the number of penalties that are incorrectly issued. A grace period of 10 minutes will be allowed to get change for ticket machines. The government, clearly worried that the monster it had created was about to turn around and devour millions of votes, has decided to call the monster to heel.
We wait with bated breath to see whether it will obey.
Drivers aren't the only ones with a low opinion of Britain's parking enforcers. In December 2005, Keith Banbury, head of the British Parking Association, said many of them were "poor quality people", and blamed the low starting salary of £14,700. (Metro, Page 8, Wed 14 Dec 2005)
You'd think with the amount of money these companies are extorting from drivers they'd be able to pay a decent salary wouldn't you? But no, that would dent their profit margins too much.
In June 2006, a committe of MPs called for changes to parking policy. Unfortunately they want decriminalised parking rolled out nationwide when it needs scrapping completely.
Speaking on Sky News, ABD spokesman Tony Vickers said:
“As long as law enforcement is in the hands of private companies motivated by profit, abuse will continue and the perception of abuse, even if it is not present, will be widespread.”
ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries, speaking on BBC Radio Leeds, blasted Gwyneth Dunwoody for being on the Transport Select Committee when decriminalised parking was conceived so how dare she whinge about it now. Abuse was inevitable when the law was reduced to a money making scam. He said that it was the new laws that were brought in "because they could be" that were the problem and called for "laws about laws" to restrict what councils could bring in.
|Obstruction, Waiting, and Parking Offences (England & Wales only)|
The 50cm scam
Do you remember the Not the Nine O'Clock News sketch where Gryff Rhys Jones played the part of a policeman who was warned by a senior officer to stop charging a man for "walking on the cracks in the pavement"?
Well the car-hating Labour government came up with a real law that's just as laughable. You can now be prosecuted for parking more than 50cm from the kerb, irrespective of how wide the road is, or how wide your car is. The issue of whether you are actually causing an obstruction to anyone is no longer important, they've become obsessed with enforcing petty little rules rather than use common sense. This petty law is just another weapon handed to private parking enforcement companies to help them make even more profit from drivers.
PPG13 — Planning Restrictions
PPG13 (Parking Policy Guidance 13) is a nasty government trick to prevent an adequate number of parking spaces being built on all new developments. This forces drivers to park elsewhere, giving parking enforcers a steady flow of victims. Thankfully it was scrapped in 2011, but we are stuck with the effects of this foolish policy for a 100 years or more.
For details see our dedicated page on PPG13 — then return to this page.
Handing parking enforcement over to private companies was irresistable to the anti-car Labour government.
Parking enforcement under local authority control is now used as a vehicle to generate ever increasing income levels. It has long since ceased to be parking control designed to promote the free flow of traffic, enhance the safety of other road users and pedestrians, and is now an easy way for members in some authorities to increase cash flow.
Paul Sale, Parking Manager,
Barnet London Borough 2003
They knew full well that these companies would be motivated purely by profit and would throw rules and reason out of the window. Sure enough the new 'industry' has persuaded a number of parasitic companies to crawl out of the woodwork, including some from overseas.
We are aware of a number of large private companies operating parking enforcement in the UK. Three are subsidiaries of huge foreign companies, which means that your parking fines are partly lining the pockets of foreign shareholders. One is well known for operating car parks in the UK. These companies are by their very nature incentivised to throw discretion out of the window, and be as ruthless as possible.
The ABD wants to see all their contracts torn up and enforcement handed back to local authorities whose priority is preventing obstructions rather than making money. At the present time when one of these parasites is sacked for unprofessionalism or incompetence, it is nothing but an utter farce, as the council just hand the contract to another of the same ilk, who often re-employ the same staff.
The German Parasites
Civica don't enforce parking directly. They make money by flogging handheld units for parking enforcers, and software for speed cameras. 45% of local authorities use their equipment.
- Central Parking System (CPS)
The American Parasites
They are based in Uxbridge.
Not to be confused with Central Parking Services Ltd (see below).
The company has also operated in the UK under the name Control Plus.
It is the european subsidiary of Central Parking Corporation, a US company based in Nashville whose laughable slogan is "Parking Just Got Easier".
Manchester City Council tore up their contract them in October 2003 after a string of absurdities, including ticketing a bus at a bus stop.
BBC — Warden gives bus parking ticket 2003-02-23
One clown even had a tantrum and put a parking ticket on a rabbit hutch.
Reuters — Bunny picks up parking ticket
Having done the right thing, the City Council then stupidly handed the contract to NCP who promptly re-employed the same staff.
Manchester Online — Boot for Parking Enforcers 2003-10-17
May 2005: a bitch [2a] employed by Control Plus slapped a ticket on a car that had been hit by joyriders and shunted along the road.
Evening Standard — 'Despicable' warden gave ticket after crash 2005-05-27
May 2005: another Control Plus thug — Alfred Damete-Kumi of Croydon — was convicted of causing criminal damage, given a 12-month conditional discharge, fined £100 and ordered to pay £120 damages, after he knocked a mobile phone out of the hands of a passer-by who was using his camera phone to take photos of the thug's van parked illegally on double yellow lines.
Evening Standard — Warden hit out at passer-by 2005-05-31
June 2005: A crowd of 200 jeer at a tow truck in Alum Rock Road, Birmingham as it removes a car with two children still inside. Police have to be called to calm the situation. It was later claimed by the council that the children and a woman climbed into the car after it was put on the back of the lorry.
BBC — Children car-towing claims denied 2005-06-06
Birmingham City Council Press Release 2005-06-06
Enforcers issued £332,000 of fines on a 400-yard stretch of Alum Rock Road last year, making it one of Britain’s worst places to park.
Control Plus even have an online payment system to make revenue collection even easier for them.
In 2002 Control Plus’s profits from on-street parking in Britain topped £1m.
- Edinburgh (2001–2006)
- Heathrow Airport
- South Eastern Trains
(off-street car parks)
If you pop over to Ireland,
they'll get you in:
- Galway (Revenge)
- Euro Parking Collection
This bunch of cross border bandits chase drivers who've received a ticket from another country. Great for the tourist industry. Not that said drivers would want to come back here anyway.
They are infamous for sending a ticket to the owner of a snowmobile in Sweden for illegal parking in Warwick.
- Excel Parking
A small UK company based in Sheffield. They only seem to have a handful of operations and focus more on car parks than street parking. They have a premium rate phone number for enquiries — it costs 50p per minute. You'll find 0114-267-8008 a lot cheaper.
They also provide 'vehicle imbobilizing services' (That's wheel clamps to you and me) to some 300 sites.
Excel managing director, Simon Renshaw-Smith, helped draw up the British Parking Association's code of practice. So we can expect that to be fair then.
Renshaw had his Porsche clamped during a recent trip to London. Excel took great delight in featuring this in their newsletter and reporting how Renshaw was amused by the whole event — not surprising consider how much money he rips off other people.
- Cloisters Centre, Formby
- Kings Mill Hospital, Warsop
- Peel Centre, Stockport
- Manchester Airport
- Swansea Waterfront
- Swinton Shopping Centre
The British Parasites
NCP have long run car parks in Britain, They have foolishly decided to jump on the anti-parking bandwagon to make a fast buck. We say 'foolishly' because NCP is one of the few parking enforcement companies that drivers can hit back at — by boycotting their car parks.
NCP pay their enforcers just £6.75 an hour, but offer a £50 bonus for a monthly average of two tickets per hour, and £215 for three per hour. Incentivising the enforcers in this way is what leads to many of the problems.
Burnley, September 2004: Ticket slapped on a van whilst delivering milk.
Bury, January 2004: NCP sent faked photos to a Bury court in a pityful attempt to extort money from a driver parked legally.
NCP subsequently sacked the person responsible, and another has resigned. Bury Police are investigating whether to bring criminal charges.
Westminster, March 2004: Enforcers compete for a cup, they get bonuses if they issue lots of tickets. Some have been sacked for issuing false tickets. One issued 6 ficticious tickets for a car he had genuinely ticketed only once.
London, May 2005: An NCP enforcer tried it on by issuing a ticket after a driver had left the place he had been parked. Only it didn't work because the driver was snapped by a bus lane camera over a mile away at the same time.
Brough, East Yorkshire, July 2005: NCP's extortionate £260 increase in the annual car parking fee at Brough railway station leads to conflict between commuters and residents.
Camden, June 2005: NCP clamped a car belonging to Father David Houlding as he was helping a 97 year old lady into her house.
Sunderland, July 2005: A high street shop closes down in protest at parking enforcers who prey on customers and delivery vehicles; plus examples of other abuses of power.
Nelson, Dec 2006: In an unbelievable display of arrogance or stupidity, an NCP parking enforcer ticketed a car belonging to a church volunteer, that was parked in a private church car park — over which the enforcers have no jurisdiction!
Edinburgh, March 2008: An NCP prat thought it would be clever to slap a ticket on a police car parked on single yellow lines outside the High Court. Police cars are allowed to park on single yellow lines when on police business.
Edinburgh, August 2008: NCP wombats slapped a ticket on a car whose wheels had been stolen. The owner had left a note saying his insurance company was going to recover the car, but the idiots ticketed it anyway.
NCP have an online payment site to help rake in the cash.
Until 2005 NCP were owned by Cinven, a private equity group who buy companies and flog them for a profit. Cinven sold NCP in 2005 to 3i, another private equity group, for £555 million. 3i own other UK companies.
- Central Parking Services Ltd
The ? Parasites
Not to be confused with Central Parking System (see above). With the names of two parking companies being so similar, with identical initials, it's possible journalists (and even councils!) have got the two companies mixed up at times.
Who are they owned by? We don't know, they seem keen to stay under the radar and don't even have a website. They may be British. If you find out do let us know.
Their address is said to be P O Box 844, Uxbridge, UB8 9BH
Also: The Old Mill House, Willow Ave, New Denham, UXBRIDGE, UB9 4AF
Also: The Meridan, 4 Copthall House, Station Square, COVENTRY. CV1 2FL
Company number 05576734
We've seen websites saying they trade as 'Centra' and own Thames Bus.
- East Herts
- Salford (2002)
- South East Trains stations
- Vinci Park
The French Parasites
They were previously known as 'Sureway Parking Services' (As in 'a sure way to make money'). Sureway were owned by Vinci Park.
We think they are also, or used to be, known as TFM (Total Facilities Management).
In Liverpool they call themselves 'Citilink'.
Confused by all these names?
Don't think for one moment that it is not a carefully orchestrated plan to hide the extent to which drivers are being ripped off by Vinci.
Vinci Park Services UK is the British subsidiary of Vinci, a major French construction and parking ‘management’ group who had a net income of €541 million in 2003. It operates parking schemes in 12 countries including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic. It also operates toll roads in France, Canada, Chile, and Thailand. A consortium including Vinci has been shortlisted for the Galileo programme which the government has threatened to abuse for satellite control of vehicle speeds.
Vinci's shareholders apparently include Electricite de France (the French national electricity provider), Veolia Environnement (heavy involvement in environmental projects), and Vivendi Universal, (which also owns Universal Entertainment & Universal Music).
A favorite target for these parasites is hospital car parks, where they are happy to mug staff, visitors and patients alike. We have to wonder why hospital authorities allow the parasites to operate on their property, and how much money they get as part of the deal.
Vinci Park also have a partnership with DVLA & DVLNI that allows them to clamp untaxed vehicles.
They were sacked by High Wycombe in Feb 2004.
In November 2004, Vinci Park Services UK Ltd were fined £10k and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £18k, after the driver of a road sweeper was killed when using a car park to turn his vehicle. On leaving, the windscreen was struck by an unsecured height restriction barrier. Vinci Park and Bromley council were found guilty of failure to inspect and maintain the barrier.
Health & Safety Executive Case 2013873
Vinci Park proudly boast of issuing over 1 million parking tickets per year, and employ over 1,000 parking enforcers.
D I Y
Some councils are cutting out the middle man and doing the enforcement themselves. Whilst this at least prevents foreign parasites lining their own pockets, don't expect more reasonable treatment. Councils are likely to see decriminalised parking merely as an excuse to effectively target council tax increases only on those who drive cars.
By way of example, take a look at the Scarborough parking fiasco featured on our North Yorkshire page.
Some councils are very cagey about saying who does the enforcement, probably at the behest of parasites who are fed up with the bad press they get. So some councils that appear to do the job themselves may actually be quitely sub-contracting it.
Should by some miracle you find your council is doing the job fairly, do let us know, we'll be delighted to give praise where praise is due.
The Right Stuff
As far as we are aware, there is but one council in the UK that does a decent job — Angus Council provide free parking at all council car parks, and free on-street parking. The council is controlled by the Scottish National Party, who clearly view drivers as citizens and voters going about their business, not cash cows to be milked dry by stormtroopers.
In February 2008, The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead announced plans to remove double yellow lines from many roads in Windsor, creating new parking spaces. Council parking spokesman Tom Bursnall, said:
"It's about time councils woke up and thought about the needs of motorists."
Lining Their Own Pockets
Britain's parking rip-off isn't just being run by councils and their parasitic partners, some other companies couldn't resist the temptation to jump on the bandwagon:
If you know of any other companies charging extortionate parking fees, contact the webmaster.
- Birmingham International Airport — Short term parking is run by NCP. £1.60 for the first 30 minutes, then £3.20 for the next 30, the £5.60 for the next, and then you need to ring your bank for a loan. International passengers can easily take an hour between landing and emerging from Arrivals. As parking is restricted throughout the airport you have no choice but to pay these extortionate fees. Our tip: park up somewhere near the airport and get your passengers to call you when they have picked up their luggage, then drive in and pick them up from outside Arrivals.
- Hilton Hotels — They have introduced an extortionate fee to park in their car parks, even hotel guests are forced to pay an additional £5 per night for parking. People meeting colleagues at the hotel are also forced to pay a petty parking fee despite the price of a cup of coffee being enough to fund a small third world country. The fee is even charged at hotels outside of city centres.
The solution to this particular rip-off is obvious — arrange your accommodation, event, or business meeting elsewhere.
- Marriott Hotel, Cardiff — A staggering £8.50 per day see for yourself! Many other hotels in the chain demand a fee too.
- National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham — When this opened parking was free. Now you have to pay £8, which is more than you have to pay in most town centres. Of course this rip-off is not mentioned at all, or is carefully hidden away in small print when you buy tickets to events, you only discover when you get there.
Elsewhere on the ABD website
ABD Press Releases about Parking
- Appeal Now
A service offering to simplify the appeal process.
- British Parking Association
A 'professional' body for companies involved in parking. A contradiction in terms if ever we heard one.
- London Motorists Action Group
Campaigning against excessive parking charges and enforcement in the capital.
- MacMillan Cancer Support — Petition Against Hospital Parking Charges
Please sign and ask your family, friends and colleagues to do likewise.
- National Parking Adjudication Service
Useful site with appalling navigation. There are a lot of pages buried under unobvious menus. Although supposedly an independent service, it is in fact run by the councils who enforce parking.
- Neil Herron's Blog
Latest happenings in Britain's crazy parking regime.
- Parking in London
A personal site describing the problems of excessive parking enforcement in London.
- Parking Ticket
- Parking Appeals Highly Recommended
Run by Neil Herron of 'Metric Martyrs' fame, their campaigning activities have exposed malpractice, fraud and illegal activities by local authorities and enforcement contractors in the parking industry across the country.
- PATROL Recommended
What to do if you are fined for parking or bus lane contravention by a council in England (excluding London) or Wales.
- RMB Consulting Highly Recommended
Road markings and signs relating to parking must comply with the law, otherwise any prosecution is illegal. Richard Bentley is a Traffic Signs, Regulations & Enforcement Consultant. He is a member of the UK Register of Expert Witnesses. Richard has successfully exposed numerous examples of local authorities failing in their statutory duty to comply with parking and signing regulations.
- Ticket Terminators
Help drivers fight illegally issued parking tickets.
The solution to all this?
- The government and local authorities should implement a massive increase in free short term parking spaces, then drivers wouldn't need to park illegally would they?
- On road parking should always be allowed except where there are genuine safety reasons for preventing parking. Restrictions must not be used to force drivers into expensive car parks.
- Free parking should be provided at all railway stations and all 'park and ride' car parks to encourage use of public transport. Means to restrict parking to those actually using the public transport facilities (e.g. by means of some ticket or card) are quite acceptable.
- Parking at hospitals for staff, patients and visitors should always be free. Extorting money from the sick and injured is obscene.
- All new developments should include provision for adequate parking.
- Incentivisation of parking enforcers should be illegal.
The artist Banksy transforms a double yellow line.
We need your help to stop the government and local authorities making it increasingly difficult and expensive to park your car.
— Join the ABD!