Southwater Parking

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Southwater Parking

Southwater parking in West Sussex is getting more challenging by the day. There seem to be additional yellow lines, extra traffic wardens, a reduced 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 assist you with your parking in Southwater. If you have established a parking fine or ticket whilst parking in Southwater, then we are here to make your life a bit easier.

To begin with there are 2 discrete types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice or a Parking Charge Notice. It is critical for your wallet that you are unmistakable about which one you've received. If the ticket is an authoritative notice from Southwater council or Southwater police then you've been given a PENALTY CHARGE NOTICE (PCN). Only the Police and the Council are allowed to issue PCN's and it means that you are being fined for parking wrongly on public 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 should refer to the Southwater council or Southwater police for information on what to do next. Southwater council will have detailed directives 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.

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

The PCN must also contain transparent detail of what parking violation you are accused of committing and include any support, such as a photograph, which is being relied upon to corroborate you committed the offence. Importantly, the Penalty Charge Notice must in addition 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 doubt as to what to do when you are given a penalty charge notice, it is always a nice idea to seek independent opinion from the Southwater Citizen's Advice Bureau, or a Southwater lawyer. The Law Society can provide details of a Southwater 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 property-owner typically supermarkets, hospitals, retail shopping centres - creates a car park or uses the existing one - 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 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 hence 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 T&C's of the car park should be displayed openly and concisely on signs as you enter the car park and at further points across the location, along with info about parking charges and any ensuing charges which could be incurred for failing to comply. If you obtain a parking charge notice you ought to check that these terms are properly displayed at the car park in question. If you find they are not, you may want to write to the business to appeal the charge.

The core divergence between an official penalty charge issued by the establishment 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 shouldn't be described as penalties or fines, although numerous 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 an application for costs. The quantity 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 charge should be acceptable and in line with the loss suffered by the company, even though excessive 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 salvage a parking charge from you without first taking you to court, so if you deem there has been a misunderstanding and you should not have been issued a ticket, you may want 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 show 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 corroborate its case on the balance of probabilities.

It is also important to note that, as things now exist, the driver of the vehicle is the solitary person who can enter into a contract with the landowner. Therefore 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 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 positive 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 demonstrate its case. However you should let them know that you contest the notice as if not, you can count on a succession 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 reasonable.

The bottom line is it's 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 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 stuff you want to purchase.