“Cowboy parking squads”

From the BBC website’s round up of the papers today, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-the-papers-28518937

Scared

Most motorists may have had cause at some time or other to utter a silent expletive when they have found a parking ticket on their car, but the Daily Mail says a new “menace” is making matters worse.

The paper’s lead story says “cowboy parking squads” employed by High street firms are hitting hundreds of thousands of drivers with £100 fines – and using threats to make them pay up.

The Mail says the firms are essentially “bounty hunters” employed by fast food chains, retailers and railway operators who issue parking notices that appear similar to council ones, but do not have the same legal standing.

Wheel clamp Many wheel clamping companies have switched to issuing tickets on private land, the Daily Mail reports

“Many are being issued unfairly and – in some cases – without legal authority,” the paper adds.

The Mail says many of the firms operated as car clampers until the practise was made illegal on private land in 2012.

AA president Edmund King tells the paper some firms use “cowboy tactics, scaremongering and bullying” to penalise motorists heavily for relatively minor parking infractions.

“Often motorists know that they are in the right, but when they get a letter that looks like an official fixed penalty notice followed by a letter that looks like an official bailiff’s letter they pay up because they are scared.”

Mr King says the British Parking Association, which regulates the industry, is paid for by car parking firms, a situation he says is akin to “inmates guarding the jail”.

The paper doesn’t say what the BPA makes of this charge.

The Mail’s leader column says “we urge all motorists to stand up for their rights and defy the new generation of car-park cowboys”.

More parking problems in the Daily Express which quotes an RAC survey suggesting a quarter of us now have to pay to park in places that were free last year.

And 67% of respondents said they were driving less because of the rising cost of car parking.

The express says the charges and fines had become “a cash cow” for cash–strapped local authorities.

But a Local Government Association spokesman tells the paper “parking revenue is spent on parking services” and other transport costs, such as repairing pot-holes.