Cirencester Parking

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Cirencester Parking

Cirencester parking in Gloucestershire is getting harder by the day. There seem to be more yellow lines, extra 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 assist you with your parking in Cirencester. If you have received a parking ticket or fine whilst parking in Cirencester, then we are here to make your life a bit easier.

At the outset there are two different types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice or a Parking Charge Notice. It is essential for your wallet that you are clear about which notice you have received. If the ticket is a legitimate notice from Cirencester council or Cirencester police then you've 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 illegally on civic 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 ought to refer to the Cirencester council or Cirencester police for counsel on what to do after that. Cirencester council will have detailed directives on their website 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 grant a discount (how nice of them) if you pay within a certain time frame.

The PCN should in addition contain plain detail of what parking violation you are accused of committing and include any indication, such as a photograph, which is being relied upon to show you committed the offence. Crucially, the Penalty Charge Notice must 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 doubt as to what to do when you pick up a penalty charge notice, it is always a good idea to get separate counsel from the Cirencester Citizen's Advice Bureau, or a Cirencester lawyer. The Law Society can provide details of a Cirencester 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 a union with a landlord to enforce any parking restrictions he or she chooses to place on their terrain.

A landowner typically supermarkets, hospitals, retail shopping centres - creates a car park or uses the existing one - they will set out restrictions usually in a notice 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, especially if the notice is clear and prominently displayed and you are hence entering into a contract with the business running the car park.

More often than not, such restrictions will involve a set time limit, a requirement to pay and display or a no-return policy. The T&C's of the car park should be displayed visibly and concisely on signs as you enter the car park and at additional points across the location, along with information about parking fees and any subsequent charges which could be incurred for failing to comply. If you be given a parking charge notice you ought to check that these terms are correctly displayed at the car park in question. If you discover they are not, you may want to write to the company to appeal the charge.

The major distinction relating an official penalty charge issued by the authorities and a parking charge issued by a private business is that there is nothing in criminal law to support a penalty or fine for parking on private land. Hence they shouldn't be described as penalties or fines, although various 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 an application for costs. The sum they ask for is to compensate for you breaching the contract you formed when you parked on the land in question. According to the CAB, this cost should be acceptable and in line with the loss suffered by the business, although extreme 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 claim a parking charge from you without first taking you to court, so if you think there has been a misunderstanding 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 period. Bear in mind that the parking operator has to corroborate its case on the balance of probabilities.

It is also central to note that, as things currently stand, the driver of the vehicle is the only person who can enter into a contract with the property-owner. For that reason 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 certain 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 demonstrate its case. However you should let them know that you contest the notice as if not, you can be expecting a succession 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 is going to be very difficult for these companies to confirm 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 straightforward to miss when you are busy thinking of all the things you want to acquire.