current affairs

Battling Britain’s big parking ticket problem

Britain is in the midst of a parking fiasco. And if you’re like me e.g.

Britain is in the midst of a parking fiasco. And if you’re like me e.g. the unluckiest and most frustrated person in the world when it comes to parking tickets, it seems like a neverending struggle between you and the council.

Someone in Britain gets a parking ticket every 4.6 seconds. Just think about that. But why have parking tickets become a source of such extreme national outrage? And what can we do to fight them?

Outside influence

If you’ve been watching the BBC documentary Parking Mad, you’ll have realised that 90 per cent of the problems surrounding parking tickets don’t stem from the original ticket. Actually, the real issues start once the council passes the (unpaid) ticket to the courts, who can then involve special police enforcement teams and the bailiffs.

Once an order of recovery is issued, your parking ticket can no longer be dealt with through your friendly local council, even if you have a sudden change of heart and want to pay it. No, you’re now in the direct firing line of the bailiffs, and they can take your car and any items in your home that are worth the value of the ticket.

And it’s a lot more than you think. These days, the police are using number plate recognition technology to pull over cars with unpaid tickets against their license, and the results can be horrifying. Depending on how many tickets and how long they’ve been unpaid, you can owe thousands and thousands.

Even if it’s only a few hundred for the ticket, the bailiffs fees can be triple that.

The waiting game

The most frustrating thing about getting a parking ticket or, worse, an order of recovery from the bailiffs, is waiting for the outcome. If you don’t acknowledge that you were badly parked and either forget to pay or appeal, you can be waiting months for a response.

And in the meantime, the deadline has passed and the fee has gone up. These holes in the system desperately need to be rectified, but councils and courts are complaining of a huge back log in tickets, payments and appeals, meaning everyone’s parking problems are being resolved much later.

That’s why so many councils are passing the baton over to the bailiffs and police – as they have the authority to seize vehicles and issues warrants without all the paperwork and filling in of forms.

How to fight back

So, we’re all getting parking tickets left, right and centre. But what can we do about it? Firstly, and I’m only going to say this once, if you get a parking ticket for genuinely parking in the wrong place PAY THE TICKET. You will gain absolutely nothing from ignoring the ticket, especially if you actually were sitting on those double yellow lines.

Most tickets are maximum £60, but if you leave them in the back of the drawer, you’ll rack up a few hundred pounds of debt. Just pay it and forget about it. Seriously.

But, if you have been issued a ticket or an order of recovery for an unpaid ticket, and you believe you were in the right, here are some top tips for keeping your cool when appealing.

Be prompt

If you receive a ticket and want to appeal or receive a bailiffs notice and need to contest it, do it ASAP. The one fair thing about this whole system is that all the forms you need can be downloaded online, and there’s even instructions about how to appeal ON the actual ticket. The quicker you submit, the quicker you’ll get a response. The details of the incident will also be fresh in your mind.

Be polite

Use your best English when filling out your appeals. Remember GCSE English, and the art of writing to persuade? This is one of those times when high school will be of use to you. I once received a second warning for a ticket I’d never received in the first place. Clearly, some genius walking down the street had taken it off my windscreen for fun.

I wrote a reply to the council stating how horrified I was that someone would do that. Push the fact that you’re a student and would have, of course, paid the ticket upfront to avoid having to spend too much precious loan money.

Be persistent

If you don’t hear back from either the council or court, keep phoning until you get an answer. Automated email responses are not enough. Statistics show that over 65 per cent of appeals are won, just because people refuse to back down. In the end, the councils have this money spare, and it’s almost easier for them to return your fine than go through all the paperwork.

Also, the people on the help desks are actually that – helpful. They’ve probably been issued with tickets of their own and they understand how frustrating the waiting can be.

Know your stuff

I once got a parking ticket for parking in my own private car park at work. Turns out the council had reclaimed it as a public car park on Sundays, but not informed us or put up any signs. Know the area you’re parking in and the rules. If you get back to your car and find a yellow packet on the window, take photos of the area to prove that there were no signs/pay and display machines/painted lines etc.


Keep every piece of paper, receipt, email, automated response that you get during your fight. I recently received a court summons for a ticket I’d paid over a year ago. Luckily, I had my bank statements to prove that the system had merely screwed up the reference for my payment, but you never know when something is going to come back and bite you in the backside. Keep everything for proof of payment and submission. They can’t ignore hard evidence.

Getting a parking ticket is never fun, especially if you feel it’s undeserved. There’s no denying that more and more of us are suffering from the councils’ insistence on issuing more tickets, and using extreme options like bailiffs to collect the debts.

But it is possible to fight back and succeed. Just keep a clear head, and be persistent. Good luck!

What do you think? Have you been involved in a similar situation? Have your say in the comments section below.