Concerned about private car park signs? Now’s the time to act

Posted on September 10th, 2012 by James Luckhurst

Concerned about private car park signs? Now’s the time to actWe’re doubtless aware that many private car parking signs frequently use unclear wording and bad layout, meaning they are likely to mislead motorists. The signs are sometimes so bad they breach the British Parking Association’s notorious code of practice for approved operators. However, the BPA seems to discipline very few companies for bad signage.

Time to act. Martin Cutts of the Plain Language Commission is gathering evidence of good and bad private parking signs and documents as part of a report he’ll present to the Government about how the British Parking Association is failing to police its code of practice. He’s also been challenged by the BPA to provide evidence of bad signs and documents being used by its members.

He needs clear close-up photos of signs used by BPA private members (nearly all will show the BPA logo) all over the UK. It will help if you can also provide context photos showing where the signs are positioned and whether there are entry and exit barriers. So if you have a private car park near you that’s operated by a BPA member, eg at supermarkets, motorway services, shopping centres, tourist hot-spots, please take the best close-up photos you can of the signboards, including the detailed terms and conditions, and email them to Martin at

Examples of words that Plain Language Commission experts consider unacceptable on private parking signs include fine, penalty, offence, Regulations and Authority… but even if you don’t see these, please still send the photos. Often the language and get-up of a sign is simply unclear and this is equally prohibited by the code.

Please give the following details when sending your photos:
1 Your name and contact details
2 Date of photo
3 Location of sign (eg, name of shopping centre or superstore)
4 Name of BPA member unless it’s clear from the sign
5 Name of landowner if known
6 Any other comments

As regards documents, Martin wants parking charge notices and letters from private parking companies and their debt collectors and solicitors. Please send scans or PDFs to Martin at the above address. Your name and contact details are required for verification only. Your personal information will not be used for any other purpose or shared with any third party for any reason.

There’s no deadline as this work is ongoing.

Martin’s postal address for any paper documents is:
Plain Language Commission,
29 Stoneheads,
Whaley Bridge,
SK23 7BB