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Private Parking Code of Practice

Volume 708: debated on Monday 7 February 2022

I am informing the House that the Government are today publishing the Private Parking Code of Practice. This is a key milestone which takes forward the implementation of the Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019, which was introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Yorkshire (Sir Greg Knight) and supported by the Government.

The code sets out the requirements that parking operators must follow when enforcing parking restrictions in England, Scotland and Wales. These include a compulsory 10-minute grace period to prevent operators issuing charges for being just a few minutes late, higher standards for signage and surface markings, and a crackdown on the use of aggressive and pseudo-legal language.

These changes will bring much-needed consistency to the private parking sector, benefiting millions of motorists. It will boost our high streets and town centres by making it easier for people to park near their shops without being unfairly fined.

Operators will need to make some changes to adhere to the new code. The code will come into force following an implementation period to give the industry time to adapt.

Parking operators will be expected to fully adhere to the code before 2024, by which time we will have introduced a new single appeals service for motorists to challenge unfair private parking charges. The industry should update their processes and procedures as quickly as possible from today so that motorists can benefit from the new code immediately.

The code has been produced through extensive consultation with key stakeholders, including consumer and industry representatives, which took place through a steering group appointed by the British Standards Institution. We have published a fuller account of this process in our Private Parking Code of Practice explanatory document, which accompanies the code. This document also explains the provisions of the new code in an accessible manner and assesses the impact of the changes on motorists and the parking industry.

There were a number of issues relating to the code which the Government consulted on separately, in parallel with the BSI process. This included proposals to bring private parking charges into closer alignment with local authority penalty charge notices.

Alongside the code, the Government have now also published their response to this further technical consultation on private parking charges, discount rates, debt collection fees and an appeals charter, which ran from July to August 2021.

After a careful consideration of respondents’ views, the Government have decided to bring private parking charges into closer alignment with the system in local councils. This means that parking charges will be more proportionate to the level of harm caused.

We are also prohibiting parking operators and debt recovery agencies from levying additional enforcement fees over and above the cost of parking charges.

We will review these arrangements as part of a more general review of the code within two years of it coming into force.

The code is part of a wider enforcement framework, which includes a new certification scheme for parking operators, the establishment of a scrutiny and oversight board to monitor the new system and the creation of a single independent appeals service.

As per our commitment in the Government’s response to our previous Code Enforcement Framework consultation in March 2021, I can now update the House that we have begun a product discovery to inform the design and delivery of the single appeals service. We will finalise the certification scheme for operators and establish the scrutiny and oversight board this spring. In autumn of this year, the conformity assessment bodies will have received their accreditation and will begin to certify parking operators against the code’s new requirements.

Spring 2022: certification scheme finalised, and scrutiny and oversight board appointed.

Autumn 2022: conformity assessment bodies (CABs) accredited by United Kingdom Accreditation Service.

From autumn 2022: all new car parks will conform to the new code.

End of 2023: Single appeals service appointed and transition period ends. Parking operators must now follow the requirements of the new code of practice.

We now welcome parliamentary scrutiny of the code of practice. I will return to update the House in future on the further implementation of the code, its wider framework and the single appeals service.