Melksham Parking

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Melksham Parking

Melksham parking in Wiltshire is getting more problematical by the day. There appear to be additional 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 a bit of luck we can help you with your parking in Melksham. If you have established a parking ticket or fine at the same time as parking in Melksham, then we are here to lend a hand.

To begin with there are two discrete types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice. It is imperative for your wallet that you are transparent about which one you've received. If the ticket is an endorsed notice from Melksham council or Melksham 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 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 PCN issued by a council or police force then you ought to refer to the Melksham council or Melksham police for advice on what to do next. Melksham council will have thorough 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 limit.

As a rule they make available a discount (how nice of them) if you pay within a set period of time.

The Penalty Charge Notice ought to also contain comprehensible detail of what parking violation you are accused of doing and include any verification, such as a video, which is being relied upon to demonstrate you committed the offence. Significantly, the PCN must in addition contain clear instructions of what to do if you want to dispute the penalty, along with details of the appeals modus operandi 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 good idea to seek separate advice from the Melksham Citizen's Advice Bureau, or a Melksham lawyer. The Law Society can provide details of a Melksham solicitor.

If you have got a Parking Charge Notice then you have received this from a private parking company. A private parking company is an organisation which has entered into a union with a landlord to enforce any parking restrictions they choose to place on their ground.

A landowner typically supermarkets, hospitals, retail shopping centres - creates a car park or uses the one already there - they will set out restrictions frequently in a sign 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, particularly if the notice is clear and prominently displayed and you are as a result entering into a contract with the business running the car park.

More often than not, such restrictions will mean 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 openly and concisely on signs as you enter the car park and at additional points across the location, along with info about parking fees and any subsequent charges which could be incurred for failing to comply. If you be given a parking charge notice you ought to check that these terms are properly 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 main divergence between an official penalty charge issued by the establishment and a parking charge issued by a private company is that there is nothing 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 lots 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 compensation. The total they ask for is to compensate for you breaching the contract you formed when you parked on the land in question. According to the CAB, this cost ought to be reasonable 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 get back a parking charge from you without first taking you to court, so if you believe there has been an error and you shouldn't 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 proof 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 prove their case in court, but it is advisable to seek advice from the CAB or a solicitor before things get to this stage. Bear in mind that the parking operator has to corroborate its case on the balance of probabilities.

It is also imperative to note that, as things now stand, the driver of the vehicle is the only person who can enter into a contract with the property-owner. Therefore if you were not the person driving you may wish to inform the parking company of this straight away. Just because you are the registered keeper of the vehicle, you are under no legal obligation to supply 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 confident 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 series 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 fair.

The bottom line is it's going to be very hard 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 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 straightforward to miss when you are busy thinking of all the things you want to purchase.