West Calder Parking

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West Calder Parking

West Calder parking in West Lothian is getting more testing by the day. There look to be more 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?

Hopefully we can help you with your parking in West Calder. If you have received a parking fine or ticket at the same time as parking in West Calder, then we are here to help out.

First there are two distinct types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice or a Parking Charge Notice. It is essential for your wallet that you are unmistakable about which one you've received. If the ticket is a legitimate notice from West Calder council or West Calder police then you have 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 illegally on municipal property. 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 ought to refer to the West Calder council or West Calder police for assistance on what to do after that. West Calder council will have thorough information 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 limit.

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

The Penalty Charge Notice should in addition contain obvious detail of what parking violation you are accused of committing and include any corroboration, such as a photograph, which is being relied upon to confirm you committed the offence. Significantly, the Penalty Charge Notice ought to also include 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 doubt as to what to do when you receive a pcn, it is always a good idea to get independent counsel from the West Calder Citizen's Advice Bureau, or a West Calder lawyer. The Law Society can provide details of a West Calder 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 landlord to enforce any parking restrictions he or she chooses to place on their property.

A landowner typically supermarkets, hospitals, retail shopping centres - creates a car park or uses the one already there - they will set out restrictions generally in a notification 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, especially if the notice is clear and prominently displayed and you are therefore entering into an agreement with the business running the car park.

More often than not, such restrictions will comprise a set time limit, a necessity to pay and display or a no-return policy. The T&C's of the car park should be displayed obviously and concisely on signs as you enter the car park and at additional points across the location, along with information about parking fees and any consequent charges which could be incurred for failing to comply. If you collect a parking charge notice you ought to check that these terms are appropriately 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 main differentiation relating an official penalty charge issued by the authorities and a parking charge issued by a private business is that there is naught 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, even though many 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 amount 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 rate should be affordable 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 recover a parking charge from you without first taking you to court, so if you deem there has been an error 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 make available 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 demonstrate their argument in court, but it is advisable to seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor before things get to this stage. Remember that the parking operator has to prove its case on the balance of probabilities.

It is also foremost to note that, as things presently exist, the driver of the vehicle is the solitary person who can enter into a contract with the landlord. 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 provide 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 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 demonstrate its case. However you should let them know that you contest the notice as if not, you can be expecting a string 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's going to be very hard for these companies to confirm 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 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 buy.