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Can supermarkets enforce charges for unauthorised parking?

  • Apr 21, 2020

Supermarkets and convenience stores are private businesses and are therefore responsible for their own car park management. Running a successful business and managing a car park effectively can prove to be a difficult task and some companies choose to enforce parking rules that apply to their customers and visitors.

Supermarket car parks are usually free to use if you are planning on making a purchase at the shop or sometimes they allow vehicle owners to use their facility for a limited period of time before car parking charges start to be applied.

On some occasions, customers might be asked to present a parking receipt at the shop’s tills to validate their parking or an ANPR camera might be used to identify vehicles entering and exiting the site, and the amount of time they attended the car park for is logged. Vehicles authorised by payment, retail spend or a permit/ authorisation will see no further actions or correspondance.

If the parking rules are breached, a Parking Charge Notice (‘PCN’) may be issued to the vehicles owner which can usually be paid online. When issued on private land, they are not calling “penalty tickets” or “parking fines”, instead they are called Parking Charge Notices (‘PCN’). You might get a PCN on private land from the landowner, business operator or a car park management company, working on behalf of the business/ landowner.

Enforcement of Parking Charge Notices at Supermarkets

In order to enforce car parking rules, a private car park owner needs to display clearly visible signs around their property. This allows them to set out the terms of the contract that a driver enters into when they decide to park on private land. If broken, the car park owner is at liberty to take steps to enforce any of the broken rules.

Landowners and parking management companies do not need licenses in order to issue parking tickets, as private parking is an unregulated business. However, many operators choose to take up memberships of accredited trade associations, such as the British Parking Association (BPA) or the International Parking

Community (IPC) to provide them with a little bit of extra validation.

A parking charge notice can either be placed on a vehicle which is in breach of the parking terms and conditionsor Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera can be used to identify the vehicles which have breached the terms & conditions and send a PCN by post to the Registered Keeper.

The car park owner or management company must be a member of the British Parking Association (BPA) or the Independent Parking Committee (IPC) in order to request registered keeper details from the DVLA and then issue parking charge notices. This is because unaccredited operators are not permitted to request Registered Keeper details from the DVLA, which makes it near impossible to pursue the driver or keeper of a contravening vehicle.

If I get a parking charge notice (PCN), is it worth appealing?

According to Which? between 25% and 41% of appeals to the two independent adjudicators are successful. However, the data varies dramatically between individual companies with one parking firm having 93% of its tickets overturned on appeal in the period of 2017-18. This means that if you genuinely believe that the parking company issued the ticket unfairly, then you should appeal.

ANPR technology, however, works on photographic evidence, so whereas some less scrupulous operators may try to entrap abusers, industry leaders such as Creative Car Park have a very low rate of overturned PCNs as the evidence produced and the records provided at appeal are plain to see. If you feel the PCN is genuinely an error you can appeal and make your case but if you know you are really in the wrong, going through the appeal process could mean losing the opportunity to pay at the reduced rate if you appeal to POPLA after your first appeal has been rejected.

Private property owners can and in most cases do, charge for parking and enforce the parking terms if they are breached. If you choose to appeal then make sure to keep any photographs and other evidence that will help support your case. You can use the Citizens Advice Bureau’s letter templates.

If the property owner or car park management company rejects your appeal, and it’s a member of the British Parking Association (BPA), you will have 28 days to appeal to an independent adjudicator. This will be either Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA), administered by the Ombudsman Services and contracted by the BPA to provide dispute resolution services to its members, or the Independent Appeals Service (IAS) for operators  who are members of the IPC.

The topmost common reasons for successful PCN appeals are:

  • The charge took more than 14 days to arrive by post
  • The registration number was entered incorrectly on the ticket
  • The driver did purchase a ticket, but it wasn’t easily visible
  • The driver did not stay in the car park for longer than a few minutes

Creative Car Park – Your trusted car park management providers

At Creative Car Park, we assist businesses by offering unique parking solutions, tailored to meet their specific business needs at no cost to the site owner. We provide enforcement solutions that can be used in combination with each other to provide maximum parking security.

Our solutions include:

To speak to one of our experienced advisors today, call us at 0333 242 5529 or contact us online.