Parking matters

Posted on December 2nd, 2013 by GEM Motoring Assist

Parking has become yet another headache for the British motorist who is already required to put up with punishing taxes, unprecedented levels of congestion and some of the highest fuel bills in Europe.¬†Nonetheless, where parking is concerned you shouldn’t get into difficulty if you are both wary and considerate.

A few golden rules where parking is concerned:

  • Make sure before you leave your car in any public space that you are legally entitled to park it. Check for broken or solid yellow lines, look for signs on posts and double check the times of day where you may or may not legally use the space.
  • Have a look at the relevant sections of the Highway Code if you are unsure as to what the different colours of lining tell you about your parking rights and responsibilities.
  • Do not park in front of people’s drives
  • Do not park on zigzag lines by pedestrian crossings
  • Do not park on zigzag markings right outside schools.
  • Do be aware of the specific regulations of where you park. These are often not clear – and there is no legislation insisting it should be.
  • Do remember that parking on the footway – whether technically legal or not – can cause inconvenience to pedestrians and is a hazard for visually impaired, disabled, and elderly people, or those with prams.

Thankfully, parking violations are not criminal offences since the Road Traffic Act of 1991 passed control to regional authorities. It is they who have a duty to enforce their parking regulations and protect a useful revenue earner.

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What if you get a parking ticket?
First, check all the details are correct, as any false information could render it invalid. Never ignore a ticket but, if you feel you were unfairly treated, you can appeal to the local authority whose details will be in the small print. If you are confronted by a traffic warden, keep your cool and never be hostile; they do not have the authority to cancel a ticket once it has been issued.

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Once upon a time they could do what they wanted without regulation but, since 2005, any private sector wheel clamper working in England and Wales without a SIA (Security Industry Authority) licence is committing a criminal offence. Unfortunately, English law does not set a limit on the release fees and there is no official board which can consider individual grievances, other than the Small Claims Court.

If you pay a release fee, you should be issued with a receipt which must include the clamper’s name, signature and licence number. Thankfully, the Government has recently restricted access by private clamping firms to the DVLA’s records, making it harder for “cowboys” to operate. You must not be clamped on private land in Scotland, as it is illegal.

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When you park, always make sure you leave nothing of value on view, including laptops, mobile phones and even small change. Lock anything in the boot, out of sight, or better still remove it from the vehicle altogether. The 2006 car theft index proves that two thirds of all cars stolen are more than nine years old, so if you drive a car that may not be brand new, you should consider investing in an aftermarket security device (for example, a steering wheel lock). Also, if you leave your vehicle with the keys in the ignition and it is stolen, your insurance will be invalidated, even if the car is on your own drive.

Always follow these sensible precautions if you are parking in an airport or a dark multi-storey. Also check that there is CCTV, restricted entry and exit points plus regular security patrols. If you can, park your car in the view of a camera, Nonetheless, be wary that most car parks insist vehicles are left at the owner’s risk but you can check to see if it operates under the “safer parking scheme” by logging onto the British Parking Association’s website.

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…and finally
In summertime, park in the shade, not only to keep temperatures down but also to reduce the chance of fuel expanding and leaking out – a possibility if your tank is very full. Do try not topark directly under trees, as their sap can damage paintwork and the leaves can block the car’s air vents and water drainage holes.

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Q: Are traffic wardens required to give ‘a few minutes’ grace’ before issuing a ticket?
A: Sadly no, although a reasonable official may wait a few minutes after seeing an illegally parked vehicle. However, many attendants, under pressure to meet their targets, may issue a ticket straight away.

Q: What happens if I arrive at a parking meter without change? Am I allowed a few minutes to get some?
A: Unfortunately not. The regulations require that you put the money into the parking meter immediately after leaving your car.

Q: Can I be given a parking ticket when loading/unloading?
A: You are usually allowed to stop to load or unload if the items are heavy, bulky or numerous. The car must be removed as soon as possible and parked legally when the loading or unloading is finished. Also, to avoid being caught out, be wary of loading restrictions, indicated by one or two blips on the kerb.

Q: I have a disabled badge. Can I still receive a parking ticket or risk my car being clamped?
A: Yes, if you do not park in the appropriate places. For example, you are not allowed to park in special reserved bays (e.g. police, doctor), clearways, where a loading ban is in force, bus stops, taxi ranks and pedestrian crossings.

Q: I parked my car at the supermarket, went shopping, came back and found a big dent in the driver’s door. No one was around, no note was left. What should I do? Can I claim against the supermarket?
A: A claim against the supermarket is unlikely to succeed.  They are likely to say that parking is at your own risk, and no damage or liability can be accepted. You could certainly tell the supermarket, and in the interests of business reputation and customer goodwill, you may get some recompense.

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The information on this Site is provided on the understanding that GEM Motoring Assist is not rendering legal or other advice. You should consult your own professional advisers as to legal or other advice relevant to any action you wish to take in connection with this website.