Sandford Parking

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Sandford Parking

Sandford parking in Dorset is getting harder by the day. There seem to be further yellow lines, more traffic wardens, a reduced amount of 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 Sandford. If you have established a parking fine or ticket at the same time as parking in Sandford, then we are here to lend a hand.

To start with there are two discrete types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice. It is crucial for your wallet that you are unmistakable about which notice you've received. If the ticket is a bureaucratic notice from Sandford council or Sandford police then you have been issued a PENALTY CHARGE NOTICE (PCN). Only the two bodies are allowed to issue Penalty Charge Notices and it means that you are being fined for parking illegally on public domain land. 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 Sandford council or Sandford police for suggestion on what to do next. Sandford council will have complete directives 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.

Typically they give a markdown (how nice of them) if you pay within a set period of time.

The notice should in addition contain transparent detail of what parking violation you are accused of doing and contain any proof, such as a video, which is being relied upon to verify you committed the offence. Crucially, the notice ought to also include clear instructions of what to do if you want to dispute the penalty, along with details of the appeals process and the timescales involved.

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

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

A landlord typically supermarkets, hospitals, retail shopping centres - creates a car park or uses the existing one - they will set out restrictions frequently in a notification displayed on the land which you agree to abide by when you park on that terrain. By choosing to park on the land it may be implied that you agree to these conditions, especially if the notice is clear and prominently displayed and you are consequently entering into an agreement with the business running the car park.

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

The key difference involving an official penalty charge issued by the establishment and a parking charge issued by a private company is that there is zilch in criminal law to support a penalty or fine for parking on private land. Consequently 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 a claim for costs. The total they ask for is to compensate for you breaching the contract you created when you parked on the land in question. According to the CAB, this rate should be sensible and in line with the loss suffered by the company, 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 salvage a parking charge from you without first taking you to court, so if you sense there has been a mistake 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 confirmation 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 corroborate their case in court, but it is advisable to seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor before things get to this phase. Bear in mind that the parking operator has to corroborate its case on the balance of probabilities.

It is also crucial to note that, as things now exist, the driver of the vehicle is the solitary person who can enter into a contract with the property-owner. 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 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 positive 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 corroborate its case. However you should let them know that you contest the notice as if not, you can look forward to 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. 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 is going to be very hard 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 easy to miss when you are busy thinking of all the things you want to purchase.