Ashford Parking

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Ashford Parking

Ashford parking in Middlesex is getting more difficult by the day. There appear to be more yellow lines, more 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 Ashford. If you have received a parking ticket or fine at the same time as parking in Ashford, then we are here to help.

First there are two different types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice or a Parking Charge Notice. It is critical for your wallet that you are transparent about which notice you have received. If the ticket is an official notice from Ashford council or Ashford police then you've been given a PENALTY CHARGE NOTICE (PCN). Only the 2 bodies are allowed to issue PCN's and it means that you are being fined for parking wrongly on municipal 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 PCN issued by a council or police force then you ought to refer to the Ashford council or Ashford police for guidance on what to do after that. Ashford council will have detailed 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.

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

The notice must as well include transparent detail of what parking violation you are accused of doing and contain any confirmation, such as a photograph, which is being relied upon to confirm you committed the offence. Importantly, the PCN should in addition include clear instructions of what to do if you want to dispute the fine, along with details of the appeals modus operandi and the timescales involved.

If you are in any uncertainty as to what to do when you get a pcn, it is always a safe idea to seek separate advice from the Ashford Citizen's Advice Bureau, or a Ashford lawyer. The Law Society can provide details of a Ashford 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 landowner to enforce any parking restrictions they choose to place on their land.

A property-owner typically supermarkets, hospitals, retail shopping centres - creates a car park or uses the one already there - they will set out restrictions ordinarily in a warning 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 an agreement with the business running the car park.

More often than not, such restrictions will include a set time limit, a requisite to pay and display or a no-return policy. The T&C's 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 info about parking fees and any ensuing charges which could be incurred for failing to comply. If you be given a parking charge notice you should check that these terms are correctly 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 major divergence involving an official penalty charge issued by the authorities and a parking charge issued by a private company is that there is not anything in criminal law to support a penalty or fine for parking on private land. Hence they should not 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 compensation. The sum they ask for is to compensate for you breaching the contract you formed when you parked on the property in question. According to the Citizen's Advice Bureau, this payment ought to be affordable and in line with the loss suffered by the company, 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 recover a parking charge from you without first taking you to court, so if you suppose there has been an oversight and you should not 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 offer 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 bear out their argument in court, but it is advisable to seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor before things get to this period. Bear in mind that the parking operator has to prove its case on the balance of probabilities.

It is also imperative to note that, as things now exist, the driver of the vehicle is the only person who can enter into a contract with the proprietor. Therefore 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 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 assured 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 confirm 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 hard for these companies to show 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 acquire.