Teesside Parking

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Teesside Parking

Teesside parking in Cleveland is getting more testing by the day. There appear to be more double yellow lines, additional traffic wardens, less free car parking and even superstores are now charging for you to park and shop with them...where will it all end?

With a bit of luck we can help you with your parking in Teesside. If you have established a parking ticket or fine whilst parking in Teesside, then we are here to help out.

First there are two distinct types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice. It is critical for your wallet that you are clear about which notice you have received. If the ticket is an official notice from Teesside council or Teesside 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 public domain land. Such an offence is backed up by criminal law and you can be fined or end up in court for not paying your fine.

If you have received a PCN issued by a council or police force then you ought to refer to the Teesside council or Teesside police for recommendation on what to do after that. Teesside council will have meticulous instructions 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.

Customarily they present a discount (how nice of them) if you pay within a set period of time.

The notice ought to also include unmistakable detail of what parking violation you are accused of committing and contain any support, such as a photograph, which is being relied upon to demonstrate you committed the offence. Importantly, the notice ought to in addition contain clear instructions of what to do if you want to dispute the fine, along with details of the appeals procedure and the timescales involved.

If you are in any doubt as to what to do when you are given a penalty charge notice, it is always a safe idea to seek independent advice from the Teesside Citizen's Advice Bureau, or a Teesside lawyer. The Law Society can provide details of a Teesside solicitor.

If you have got a Parking Charge Notice then you have received this from a private parking company. A private parking company 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 one already there - they will set out restrictions customarily in a sign 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, particularly if the notice is clear and prominently displayed and you are then entering into a deal with the business running the car park.

More often than not, such restrictions will involve a set time limit, a necessity to pay and display or a no-return policy. The terms and conditions of the car park should be displayed clearly and concisely on signs as you enter the car park and at additional points across the site, along with information about parking charges and any consequent charges which could be incurred for failing to comply. If you receive a parking charge notice you ought to check that these terms are properly displayed at the car park in question. If you find they aren't, you may desire to write to the business to appeal the charge.

The chief distinction relating an official penalty charge issued by the establishment and a parking charge issued by a private company is that there is nothing in criminal law to support a penalty or fine for parking on private land. Hence they should not be described as penalties or fines, even though loads of parking operators will label their notices a Parking Charge Notice, which handily also abbreviates to PCN (what a coincidence!).

In giving out a Parking Charge Notice, the parking operator is relying on the law of contract to make a claim for damages. The quantity they ask for is to compensate for you breaching the contract you created when you parked on the property in question. According to the CAB, this rate should be affordable and in line with the loss suffered by the company, although excessive charges are common. This isn't a criminal matter despite any impression given to the contrary by the operator.

The operator has no right to get back a parking charge from you without first taking you to court, so if you suppose there has been a misunderstanding and you shouldn't 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 offer evidence of their case 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 Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor before things get to this point. Take into account that the parking operator has to corroborate its case on the balance of probabilities.

It is also imperative to note that, as things presently stand, the driver of the vehicle is the solitary person who can enter into a contract with the landowner. As a result if you weren't the person driving you may wish to inform the parking company of this right away. Just because you are the registered keeper of the car, you are under no legal obligation to provide the parking operator with any further info, 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 regulations 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 verify its case. However you should let them know that you contest the notice as if not, you can anticipate a succession of letters from the company itself, debt collectors and solicitors, all warning of court action. However, the reality is that extremely few cases ever reach court because of the difficulties the private company has in proving its case. As a result, the letters usually stop. Even if a case does reach court, the company may have trouble convincing a judge that the charge is fair.

The bottom line is it's going to be very difficult for these companies to establish 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 recommend 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 straightforward to miss when you are busy thinking of all the things you want to purchase.