Wincanton Parking

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Wincanton Parking

Wincanton parking in Somerset is getting more problematical by the day. There seem to be more yellow lines, additional 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 assist you with your parking in Wincanton. If you have established a parking fine or ticket at the same time as parking in Wincanton, then we are here to assist.

First of all there are two different types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice or a Parking Charge Notice. It is imperative for your wallet that you are clear about which notice you've received. If the ticket is an endorsed notice from Wincanton council or Wincanton police then you've 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 wrongly on municipal 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 PCN issued by a council or police force then you should refer to the Wincanton council or Wincanton police for guidance on what to do next. Wincanton council will have thorough advice on their website 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.

Commonly they grant a discount (how nice of them) if you pay within a certain time frame.

The notice should as well contain obvious detail of what parking violation you are accused of committing and contain any indication, such as a photograph, which is being relied upon to prove you committed the offence. Crucially, the PCN must in addition contain 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 reservation as to what to do when you obtain a pcn, it is always a good idea to get separate opinion from the Wincanton Citizen's Advice Bureau, or a Wincanton lawyer. The Law Society can provide details of a Wincanton solicitor.

If you have got 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 they choose to place on their property.

A property-owner typically supermarkets, hospitals, retail shopping centres - creates a car park or uses the one already there - they will set out restrictions more often than not in a warning 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 therefore entering into a deal 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 terms and conditions of the car park should be displayed noticeably 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 receive a parking charge notice you should check that these terms are properly displayed at the car park in question. If you find they aren't, you may wish to write to the company to appeal the charge.

The major disparity linking an official penalty charge issued by the authorities and a parking charge issued by a private business is that there is not anything in criminal law to support a penalty or fine for parking on private land. Therefore they should not 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 issuing a Parking Charge Notice, the parking operator is relying on the law of contract to make a claim for damages. 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 fair 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 recover a parking charge from you without first taking you to court, so if you suppose there has been an error 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 give evidence 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 Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor before things get to this phase. Take into account that the parking operator has to prove its case on the balance of probabilities.

It is also significant to note that, as things presently 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 right away. Just because you are the registered keeper of the vehicle, 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 convinced 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 prove 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 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 difficult for these companies to prove 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 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 acquire.