Harlington Parking

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Harlington Parking

Harlington parking in Bedfordshire is getting harder by the day. There seem to be additional yellow lines, extra traffic wardens, less free car parking and even supermarkets are now charging for you to park and shop with them...where will it all end?

Hopefully we can assist you with your parking in Harlington. If you have received a parking ticket or fine at the same time as parking in Harlington, then we are here to help.

First there are 2 separate types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice. It is vital for your wallet that you are transparent about which one you have received. If the ticket is an official notice from Harlington council or Harlington police then you have been issued a PENALTY CHARGE NOTICE (PCN). Only the Police and the Council are allowed to issue PCN's and it means that you are being fined for parking wrongly on municipal property. Such an offence is backed up by criminal law and you can be fined or end up in court for non-payment of the fines.

If you have received a PCN issued by a council or police force then you should refer to the Harlington council or Harlington police for guidance on what to do after that. Harlington council will have detailed advice on their web pages outlining how long you have got to pay the fine, how to pay the fine and the penalties involved if you fail to pay within the time limit.

Ordinarily they give a discount (how nice of them) if you pay within a certain time frame.

The PCN should in addition contain transparent detail of what parking violation you are accused of committing and contain any facts, such as a video, which is being relied upon to verify you committed the offence. Significantly, the PCN should also contain clear instructions of what to do if you want to dispute the fine, along with details of the appeals method and the timescales involved.

If you are in any uncertainty as to what to do when you receive a pcn, it is always a good idea to get separate guidance from the Harlington Citizen's Advice Bureau, or a Harlington lawyer. The Law Society can provide details of a Harlington solicitor.

If you have received a Parking Charge Notice then you have received this from a private parking business. A private parking business is an organisation which has entered into an agreement with a landowner to enforce any parking restrictions he or she chooses to place on their ground.

A landlord typically supermarkets, hospitals, retail shopping centres - creates a car park or uses the existing one - they will set out restrictions more often than not in a notification displayed on the land which you agree to abide by when you park on that property. By choosing to park on the land it may be implied that you agree to these conditions, specifically if the notice is clear and prominently displayed and you are for that reason entering into a contract with the business running the car park.

More often than not, such restrictions will comprise a set time limit, an obligation to pay and display or a no-return policy. The terms and conditions of the car park should be displayed noticeably and concisely on signs as you enter the car park and at other points across the location, along with information about parking fees and any ensuing charges which could be incurred for failing to comply. If you obtain a parking charge notice you should check that these terms are accurately displayed at the car park in question. If you discover they aren't, you may want to write to the company to appeal the charge.

The main variance relating an official penalty charge issued by the authorities and a parking charge issued by a private business is that there is not anything in criminal law to support a penalty or fine for parking on private land. For that reason they should not be described as penalties or fines, although many parking operators will label their notices a Parking Charge Notice, which handily also abbreviates to PCN (what a coincidence!).

In issuing a Parking Charge Notice, the parking operator is relying on the law of contract to make an application for compensation. The sum they ask for is to compensate for you breaching the contract you created when you parked on the property in question. According to the Citizen's Advice Bureau, this charge should be rational and in line with the loss suffered by the company, although extreme charges are common. This is not a criminal matter despite any impression given to the contrary by the operator.

The operator has no right to claim a parking charge from you without first taking you to court, so if you deem there has been a blunder and you should not have been issued a ticket, you may want to dispute the charge with the parking company as soon as possible. You should ask them to give proof of their argument against you. If you fail to reach an agreement with them, then, as with all civil matters, it is up to the parking company to confirm their argument in court, but it is advisable to seek advice from the CAB or a solicitor before things get to this stage. Take into account that the parking operator has to corroborate its case on the balance of probabilities.

It is also of great consequence to write down that, as things presently exist, the driver of the vehicle is the only person who can enter into a contract with the landlord. So if you were not the person driving you may wish to inform the parking company of this straight away. Just because you are the registered keeper of the vehicle, you are under no legal obligation to bestow the parking operator with any further information, as you would be with the police. In particular you do not have to identify the driver or supply his or her name and address.

Indeed if you are convinced that you have not parked in contravention of the rules of the car park, you do not have to contact the parking company if you do not wish to do so as the obligation is on the parking company to corroborate its case. However you should let them know that you contest the notice as if not, you can look forward to a sequence of letters from the company itself, debt collectors and solicitors, all warning of court action. However, the reality is that very few cases ever reach court because of the difficulties the private company has in proving its case. Consequently, the letters usually stop. Even if a case does reach court, the company may have trouble convincing a judge that the charge is reasonable.

The bottom line is it's going to be very difficult for these companies to demonstrate you are a guilty party in this. In 99.99% of cases the best thing to do is rip up the ticket and throw it away. We would advise not to get in touch with the company (as you are handing them your details) or waste your time and money consulting a solicitor. Most of these companies do not provide proper signage - in other words they are easy to miss when you are busy thinking of all the things you want to acquire.