Southwick Parking

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Southwick Parking

Southwick parking in Tyne and Wear is getting harder by the day. There seem to be further double yellow lines, more 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 Southwick. If you have established a parking fine or ticket whilst parking in Southwick, then we are here to help.

To start with there are two various types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice or a Parking Charge Notice. It is vital for your wallet that you are clear about which notice you've received. If the ticket is a formal notice from Southwick council or Southwick 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 wrongly 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 Southwick council or Southwick police for recommendation on what to do next. Southwick council will have meticulous instructions 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.

Usually they present a discount (how nice of them) if you pay within a set period of time.

The notice must also include transparent detail of what parking violation you are accused of committing and contain any verification, such as a photograph, which is being relied upon to verify you committed the offence. Crucially, the PCN must also contain clear instructions of what to do if you want to dispute the penalty, along with details of the appeals system and the timescales involved.

If you are in any uncertainty as to what to do when you pick up a pcn, it is always a safe idea to get independent guidance from the Southwick Citizen's Advice Bureau, or a Southwick lawyer. The Law Society can provide details of a Southwick 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 union with a landowner to enforce any parking restrictions they choose to place on their property.

A proprietor typically supermarkets, hospitals, retail shopping centres - creates a car park or uses the existing one - they will set out restrictions regularly 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 then entering into a contract with the business running the car park.

More often than not, such restrictions will mean 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 plainly and concisely on signs as you enter the car park and at further points across the location, along with information about parking charges and any consequent charges which could be incurred for failing to comply. If you collect a parking charge notice you should 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 major distinction between 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. Hence they shouldn't be described as penalties or fines, even though countless 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 compensation. 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 Citizen's Advice Bureau, this payment should be acceptable and in line with the loss suffered by the business, 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 claim a parking charge from you without first taking you to court, so if you believe 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 confirmation 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 CAB or a solicitor before things get to this point. Take into account that the parking operator has to prove its case on the balance of probabilities.

It is also of the essence to write down that, as things presently exist, the driver of the vehicle is the only person who can enter into a contract with the property-owner. Thus if you weren't 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 provide 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 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 bear out 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. Consequently, 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 is going to be very hard 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 easy to miss when you are busy thinking of all the stuff you want to purchase.