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News & views

Private parking update: phoney fines and dodgy signs take drivers for a ride

 [20 April 2012 – updated 22 May 2012] Parking firms whose income depends on unclear signs and payment demands are being supported by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) through a little-known agreement with the British Parking Association (BPA).

It’s led to about four million drivers being pursued for charges that many of them mistakenly think are real parking fines. In the current year alone, BPA-member firms are chasing drivers for these phoney (ie, not official) fines worth £160million using names and addresses they’ve got from the DVLA, a government agency that’s making £5million from the deal.

The firms’ actions are usually lawful but the DVLA has even sold thousands of motorists’ names to a BPA member company that has a criminal record for using misleading signs to dupe hundreds of drivers.

Campaigners against bad signs have just had a remarkable success, with one firm being suspended from access to the DVLA’s database of registered keepers' names and addresses after it used the words ‘fines’ and ‘offence’ on its signs in the South West. The firm, Premier Parking Services UK Ltd of Bridgwater, Somerset has imposed hundreds of its phoney £150 fines without – apparently – the DVLA and the BPA (which is supposed to monitor signage) knowing anything about it.

To download our full report, click here (4MB).

To see also BBC1's Watchdog  film (19 April 2012) on  YouTube, click here:

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