08/10/2013

Car Parks 'Squeezing Profit' From Motorists

Some car park enforcers are "squeezing every penny of profit out of motorists," using methods which are "unfair", according to Environment Minister Mark Durkan.

The Department has pointed out that the DOE’s Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) has to provide information on drivers who have parked inappropriately in private car parks, such as those owned by large retailers.

Such offences could include double parking, staying over time or parking while not being a customer of the shop.

But Minister Durkan expressed concern today that private car parking operators’ firms "squeeze every penny of profit out of the drivers while not best demonstrating the penalties for inappropriate parking".

Addressing the matter in the Assembly today, Mr Durkan said: "The rights of the car park owners and shoppers need to be respected. I do not dispute that and am all for action to ensure it. However, that action has got be reasonable and fair. Putting up small warning signs that motorists may not see is not in my opinion fair. An objective to squeeze every last penny out of motorists is not fair. Motorists not being given the opportunity to appeal, is not fair.

"So I want to see much better regulation of those handing out car parking fines. The British Parking Association have a Code of Practice. It includes visible, uniformed staff, clear visible signs on entrance to the car park, and non threatening penalty notices for enforcement. I am concerned that these guidelines are not being adhered to.

"I am also concerned that motorists have no right of appeal. There should definitely be some platform for them to explain their actions, if unreasonably charged."

The Minister said he would be meeting soon with Stephen Hammond, Minister in Department for Transport in London, address the issues.

(IT/CD)

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