Morpeth Parking

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Morpeth Parking

Morpeth parking in Northumberland is getting harder by the day. There look to be additional double yellow lines, added traffic wardens, a reduced amount 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 help you with your parking in Morpeth. If you have received a parking fine or ticket whilst parking in Morpeth, then we are here to lend a hand.

First of all there are two various types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice or 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 endorsed notice from Morpeth council or Morpeth police then you have been issued a PENALTY CHARGE NOTICE (PCN). Only the two bodies are allowed to issue PCN's and it means that you are being fined for parking illegally on public 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 Penalty Charge Notice issued by a council or police force then you should refer to the Morpeth council or Morpeth police for guidance on what to do after that. Morpeth council will have comprehensive advice 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 frame.

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

The Penalty Charge Notice ought to in addition include unmistakable detail of what parking violation you are accused of doing and contain any support, such as a photograph, which is being relied upon to show you committed the offence. Significantly, the Penalty Charge Notice should 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 reservation as to what to do when you are given a penalty charge notice, it is always a good idea to get independent counsel from the Morpeth Citizen's Advice Bureau, or a Morpeth lawyer. The Law Society can provide details of a Morpeth solicitor.

If you have got 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 property.

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

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

The most important differentiation linking an official penalty charge issued by the establishment 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. For that reason they should not be described as penalties or fines, although lots 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 compensation. The amount they ask for is to compensate for you breaching the contract you created when you parked on the property in question. According to the Citizen's Advice Bureau, this payment should be fair and in line with the loss suffered by the business, although extreme 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 have reason there has been a blunder 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 offer 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 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 stage. Take into account that the parking operator has to corroborate its case on the balance of probabilities.

It is also imperative to write down that, as things presently exist, the driver of the vehicle is the solitary person who can enter into a contract with the landowner. Consequently if you were not the person driving you may wish to inform the parking company of this right away. Just because you are the registered keeper of the vehicle, you are under no legal obligation to supply 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 confident 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 confirm its case. However you should let them know that you contest the notice as if not, you can expect a progression 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 just.

The bottom line is it is going to be very difficult 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 advise 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.