Cockermouth Parking

Church | Schools

Cockermouth Parking

Cockermouth parking in Cumbria is getting more challenging by the day. There look to be more double yellow lines, added traffic wardens, with a reduction of free car parking and even supermarkets are now charging for you to park and shop with them...where will it all end?

With a bit of luck we can assist you with your parking in Cockermouth. If you have established a parking fine or ticket at the same time as parking in Cockermouth, then we are here to help out.

Firstly there are two distinct types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice. It is imperative for your wallet that you are clear about which notice you have received. If the ticket is an authoritative notice from Cockermouth council or Cockermouth police then you have been given a PENALTY CHARGE NOTICE (PCN). Only the 2 bodies are allowed to issue Penalty Charge Notices 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 Penalty Charge Notice issued by a council or police force then you should refer to the Cockermouth council or Cockermouth police for instruction on what to do after that. Cockermouth council will have comprehensive instructions on their web pages outlining how long you have got to pay the fine, how to pay the fine and the penalties implicated if you fail to pay within the time frame.

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

The PCN must also include plain detail of what parking violation you are accused of doing and include any data, such as a video, which is being relied upon to establish you committed the offence. Crucially, the Penalty Charge Notice ought to also include clear instructions of what to do if you want to dispute the penalty, along with details of the appeals modus operandi and the timescales involved.

If you are in any doubt as to what to do when you obtain a pcn, it is always a nice idea to seek independent opinion from the Cockermouth Citizen's Advice Bureau, or a Cockermouth lawyer. The Law Society can provide details of a Cockermouth solicitor.

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

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 notification displayed on the land which you agree to abide by when you park on that land. 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 thus entering into an agreement with the business running the car park.

More often than not, such restrictions will mean 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 visibly and concisely on signs as you enter the car park and at further points across the location, along with information about parking charges and any consequent charges which could be incurred for failing to comply. If you collect a parking charge notice you should check that these terms are appropriately displayed at the car park in question. If you find they aren't, you may wish to write to the business to appeal the charge.

The key variance relating an official penalty charge issued by the establishment and a parking charge issued by a private company is that there is naught in criminal law to support a penalty or fine for parking on private land. For that reason they shouldn't be described as penalties or fines, although countless 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 quantity they ask for is to compensate for you breaching the contract you formed when you parked on the property in question. According to the CAB, this cost should be affordable and in line with the loss suffered by the business, although excessive 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 get back a parking charge from you without first taking you to court, so if you feel there has been a misunderstanding and you shouldn't have been issued a ticket, you may wish to dispute the charge with the parking company as soon as possible. You should ask them to give proof 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 prove 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 prove its case on the balance of probabilities.

It is also crucial to note that, as things presently exist, the driver of the vehicle is the only person who can enter into a contract with the proprietor. 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 car, you are under no legal obligation to impart 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 positive 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 bear out its case. However you should let them know that you contest the notice as if not, you can anticipate a series 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 just.

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 contact 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.