Chard Parking

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Chard Parking

Chard parking in Somerset is getting harder by the day. There seem to be further yellow lines, additional traffic wardens, a lesser 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 any luck we can assist you with your parking in Chard. If you have established a parking fine or ticket at the same time as parking in Chard, then we are here to help out.

First there are two separate types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice. It is crucial for your wallet that you are clear about which one you have received. If the ticket is a formal notice from Chard council or Chard police then you've been given 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 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 Penalty Charge Notice issued by a council or police force then you should refer to the Chard council or Chard police for recommendation on what to do after that. Chard council will have comprehensive 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 frame.

Usually they present a markdown (how nice of them) if you pay within a certain time frame.

The notice should in addition include plain detail of what parking violation you are accused of committing and contain any confirmation, such as a photograph, which is being relied upon to prove you committed the offence. Significantly, the PCN must also contain clear instructions of what to do if you want to dispute the fine, 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 pcn, it is always a safe idea to get separate guidance from the Chard Citizen's Advice Bureau, or a Chard lawyer. The Law Society can provide details of a Chard 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 a contract with a landowner to enforce any parking restrictions he or she chooses to place on their ground.

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 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 for that reason entering into a deal with the business running the car park.

More often than not, such restrictions will include a set time limit, an obligation to pay and display or a no-return policy. The T&C's of the car park should be displayed noticeably and concisely on signs as you enter the car park and at extra points across the location, along with info about parking fees and any ensuing 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 want to write to the company to appeal the charge.

The core divergence relating an official penalty charge issued by the authorities and a parking charge issued by a private business is that there is zilch in criminal law to support a penalty or fine for parking on private land. Consequently they should not be described as penalties or fines, even though loads 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 an entitlement for damages. 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 CAB, this rate should be sensible and in line with the loss suffered by the company, even though 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 get back a parking charge from you without first taking you to court, so if you have reason there has been a lapse 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 provide 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 show their argument in court, but it is advisable to seek advice from the CAB or a solicitor before things get to this point. Bear in mind that the parking operator has to prove its case on the balance of probabilities.

It is also significant to note that, as things currently stand, 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 car, you are under no legal obligation to impart the parking operator with any further information, 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 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 prove 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 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 reasonable.

The bottom line is it is going to be very hard for these companies to demonstrate 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 straightforward to miss when you are busy thinking of all the things you want to acquire.