A reader asked:
I’ve got a parking ticket in a car park which isn’t right because you couldn’t see the signs the way I went in. I’ve been sent a letter saying if I don’t pay they will go to court and this will then show on my credit record. My partner says she got a speeding fine and that wasn’t on her credit record. Are they lying to me?
This article looks at what will happen if you don’t pay a parking fine and if it will really show on your credit record.
It’s important you know what type of parking ticket you have:
- Penalty Charge Notice (“PCN”) This includes most parking fines issued by the local authority for parking offences on public roads or council-run car parks. These are sometimes called Parking Penalty Charges.
- Privately-run car parks This includes many hospital car parks, multi-storey car parks, car parks for shopping centres or individual businesses such as shops or pubs.
- Others For example the Fixed Penalty Notices that are issued by the police.
This can be confusing.
If the car park was privately operated, you may have had something which said Parking Charge Notice. These are often designed to look like the Penalty Charge Notices you get from your local council, with the same yellow and black colours. If you aren’t sure which sort of ticket you have, talk to National Debtline on 0808 808 4000.
The parking ticket industry is massive
At the start of 2023, statistics showed that about 50,000 parking tickets are issued every day – that is one every 2 seconds.
About 20,000 of these are council-issued. They went up about 12% in 2022 from 2021.
About 30,000 are from privately-run car parks. The firms that issue the most tickets are Parking Eye and Euro Car Park.
Are people really getting worse about paying for parking? It seems more likely to me that enforcement is becoming over-zealous and parking fines are being seen as a useful source of revenue. See this article Confusing letter O with an 0 on a numberplate at a ticket machine should never be penalised for one situation which is simply unfair.
Reform has been shelved
In 2019 the Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019 became law. The government said:
This set out a clear vision for the regulatory system with the interests of safe motorists at its heart and a commitment to making sure that individuals who deliberately park dangerously or obstructively can’t get away with it.
The publication of this Private Parking Code of Practice is a big step towards translating that bold vision into reality.
This was supposed to be fully in force by the end of 2023. It would have improved signs, capped almost all private parking charges at £50 and introduced a fairer appeals system.
But parking operators threatened legal challenges. In the summer of 2022 the Government caved in and withdrew the Code – temporarily it said.
Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs)
The National Debtline factsheet Penalty charge notices (PCNs) for parking covers everything to do with PCNs, from disputing the debt to problems with bailiffs. If you aren’t sure about any aspect, talk to National Debtline.
It is not a good idea to pay a ticket first then try to appeal it, so check out your possible grounds for objecting before paying it. See:
If you ignore a PCN or appeal unsuccessfully and then don’t pay the PCN, the council will apply to the Traffic Enforcement Centre at Northampton County Court for an Order for Recovery.
A copy of the Order is sent to you.
There should also be a TE9 form, called a witness statement, which you can use to dispute the charge. A common reason for doing this is because you never received the original paperwork, for example if you had moved. See National Debtline’s section on Objecting using the witness statement form in the Factsheet link above. and call them for advice if you are not sure what to do.
Although the Order came from a County Court, it is not a CCJ. A charge has been registered by the Court “as if it is a county court judgment” but this it will not show on your credit record.
But even though this isn’t a CCJ, you should not ignore this.
The next step in enforcement is usually to send the debt to bailiffs. That adds their very large charges to what you owe. The bailiffs may refuse to accept payments by installments anf if you own a car which is parked on the street, it is at risk.
If a letter from bailiffs is the first time you have heard of the debt, it may be possible to file a late witness statement. See the section on Bailiffs in the Factsheet link above for full details.
Privately-run car parks
I think the reader who asked the question at the start of this article had a private parking ticket.
The threat to add it to his credit record wasn’t quite lying – because it can happen.
But I bet they didn’t explain that this would only happen if your appeal fails and the firm takes you to court and you lose the court case and you then don’t pay the CCJ within a month…
In other words, you can challenge an unfair ticket and know that your credit record won’t be wrecked provided you pay promptly when lose.
MoneySavingExpert’s excellent guide Fight Unfair Private Parking Tickets covers all the options about when and how you should tackle these tickets if you feel you shouldn’t have got one. I’m not going to repeat them as there are various alternative approaches you could take.
But remember it’s the details of your case that count. You may have a GREAT case against a firm which normally wins most of the appeals, or a WEAK case against a firm that often loses appeals.
The worst case is that if your chosen approach (whichever that is) doesn’t work, the parking firm may take you to court for CCJ. Sometimes they won’t, but if they do and you then lose, you have to pay court costs in addition to the original charge. If you then pay the CCJ within a month it will not appear on your credit record.
Other parking offences
Sometimes you can get a Magistrate’s Court fine for a parking infringement, for example if you don’t pay a Fixed Penalty Notice. For some offences, such as parking on zig-zag lines, you can also get points on your licence.
Magistrate’s Court fines won’t show on your credit record.
This doesn’t mean they aren’t important! These fines are priority debts because it is possible you could be sent to prison for not paying them. See National Debtline’s factsheet on Magistrates’ court fines.
Comments – I don’t publish any comments suggesting you ignore private parking tickets. I think this is dangerous. See the MSE article above for better options.