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Illegal parking

Protecting your parking rights

Patrick Troy offers some alternatives to clamping and towing away

to protect leaseholders and resident management agents from unauthorised parking on their land. Since then, the BPA has continued to lobby the gov- ernment in a bid to overturn the proposal. If this cannot be done, we want to ensure that any new legislation includes various amendments that are critical for the future control of private land. The BPA fully understands that until we know more about the nature of


the Freedom Bill – which will include the details about the clamping ban - the priority for flat owners is to understand if there are any alternatives for protecting their land. Here are a few options to consider.


The main benefit of a barrier system, in principle, is that it prevents unauthorised vehicles from entering a car park and filling your valuable spaces. However, there are a number of pitfalls to this solution. First, it is very expensive to install - barriers can cost thousands of pounds. Second, you will have to apply for planning permission to your local council – which can be denied for a number of valid reasons, including that barriers can greatly impact the external road network. That is, they can cause queues outside a private site and therefore block the public highway. Finally, it is not too hard for people to tailgate legitimate vehicles in order to pass through the barriers without a permit. Once they are in, it is then very difficult to get them out again until they choose to leave.


When Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone announced the ban back in August, she claimed that additional powers were being given to the police, who could then deal with parking problems on private land. In reality however, the BPA are convinced that this will not work. The police will not be interested in a leaseholder’s complaint that someone is parked in their space. Justifiably, they are likely to declare that it is a civil matter and that their time is better spent elsewhere. Thus the abuse will continue. If however a vehicle is blocking an entry or exit to your car park, or if you believe there is a fire risk, then you should call the police and ask them to remove it.


This can work, but it doesn’t come without flaws. While there will be an initial expense, lockable barriers will deter and usually prevent selfish motorists from abusing your land. However, the pitfalls are mostly


n the last issue of Flat Living I gave a snapshot of how the British Parking Associ- ation (BPA) is working hard

connected to the stress involved and the hassle factor. For example, you may lose your key and have to pay for a replacement or even a new lock. If you come back with lots of shopping or luggage from a holiday, there are more logistics to contend with before you can simply unload your vehicle. Also, for anyone who is frail or unwell, the locks could be too heavy or even cause an injury – they are quite substantial in size and require a certain amount of physical strength. Furthermore, lockable barriers do not address the issue of unauthorised vehicles obstructing the spaces in areas such as access roads.


Lynne Featherstone announced that ticketing can be used as an alternative to clamping. While this is true and ticketing has been successfully used in many private car parks, it remains unregulated. This means that flat owners or their agents must rely on either contract or trespass law to enforce the tickets. We have long lobbied government to introduce some proper regulation in this area, including the establishment of owner liability, which will make it easier for flat owners to follow up unpaid tickets.


The BPA has established the Approved Operator Scheme (which is a form of self-regulation for the private parking industry), to encourage best practice. However, although the AOS is a gateway for car park operators to access the DVLA’s vehicle keeper database, it is still a voluntary scheme. The BPA wants to see a similar system – though wholly independent – to be mandatory for all companies working in this area. We are also calling on government to establish an independent appeals service to better protect motorists. To this end, we have been piloting such a service, which should act as a blueprint for change. The reason that clamping can be an effective solution is because it

affects a motorist’s decision at the point of the offence. A sign with a clamp on it is proven to be a real deterrent and to dramatically reduce the number of parking offences on private land. If motorists think they might be clamped, they will think twice about breaking the rules. Clamping provides a last resort to landowners who are faced with persistent offenders. Banning clamping removes the most effective incentive to follow the rules. However, the BPA wholeheartedly agrees with the government that ‘cowboy’ clampers should be driven out of the industry permanently and we will continue to lobby for better regulation of the entire private parking sector, including clamping. We want to see higher operator standards and a fairer deal for motorists when they fall foul of the rules. Real progress can be made by addressing the scrag end of the market occupied by the rogue clampers. The BPA will not rest until landowners, flat owners and leaseholders – as well as motorists - can rely on a regulatory system for private land that is as robust as that which applies on the public highway.

Patrick Troy is Chief Executive of the British Parking Association

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