Unauthorised Parking On Private Land, Nuisance Or Licence To Print Money

Jun 28, 2013

If you or your business own land, particularly near railway stations or town centres, the issue of unauthorised parking is likely to be a source of constant irritation.

As councils advance residents parking permit schemes (and the revenue for the sale of permits!) further and further outwards the problem is only likely to become worse.

Wheel clamping offending vehicles was seen as a good and visible deterrent, a large number of companies set up offering the service to land owners on a split of the money collected. Unfortunately the way that this was carried out by some led to an attempt to regulate the profession by requiring wheel clampers to be SIA (Security Industry Authority) licensed. Despite this problems continued with many seeing the practice as legalised robbery. 

In response the government passed legislation effective from October 2012 making wheel clamping on private land a criminal offence.

What are the alternatives? Some companies had already begun an alternative means of enforcement using “penalty charge notices” bearing a striking resemblance to a parking ticket. This either being issued onto vehicles on the land at the time or by means of automatic number plate readers placed at entry and exit points. The difficulty had always been enforcement. The basis of the charge had to be contract, clearly visible signs had to be erected to the effect that “if you park on this land you enter into a contract to pay £x”. Until October however there was a problem with this approach, a contract could only ever be with the driver, but the only details available from the DVLA would be the registered keeper and the two might not be the same. Unlike the police a private land owner or their contractor has no power to require the registered keeper to name the driver.

Having removed the ability to wheel clamp the legislation gives back in that it provides that the registered keeper, although able to nominate another driver, is ultimately responsible for the charge. Regulation is maintained as only authorised parking enforcement firms will have a right to registered keepers information from the DVLA.

Whilst no doubt the threat made in signage of wheel clamping will still have some effect those who park on private land will soon learn what a hollow threat it now is. If you employ a contractor to issue tickets ensure they are authorised to obtain vehicle keeper details and insist that any contract ends in the event that their behaviour leads to it being withdrawn. 

Pete Dodd

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Pete Dodd

Pete joined Nockolds in 2004 as a Partner within the Family Team. Before joining the firm Pete graduated from Bristol University with a degree in ...

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