Q. I parked in a carpark in Belfast, I paid for my parking but I have received a Parking Charge Notice stating that I didn’t and fining me £60, do I have to pay this?
A. Check the type of parking ticket you have as how to appeal will be different depending on who the letter is from.
Your parking ticket or letter will say if it’s from Transport NI, the police, or a parking company. Based on the information you provided in your query it would appear that you have received a Parking Charge Notice from a parking company, if this is not the case please contact your local Citizens Advice so as they can advise further.
Take the following steps to appeal a Parking Charge Notice:
1. Check if a parking company is an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) member
Check the British Parking Association (BPA) or International Parking Community (IPC) websites to see if a parking company is an ATA member. You can also call the BPA on 01444 447 300 to check if a company is an ATA member. Calls to this number can cost up to 12p a minute from a landline, or between 8p and 40p a minute from a mobile (your phone supplier can tell you how much you’ll pay).
Don’t pay a parking ticket from a company that’s not an ATA member. They can’t take you to court because they can’t get your details from the DVLA. They can only chase you for a parking ticket if you give them your address, so don’t contact them.
If you get a ticket in the post from a non-ATA member, report them to Action Fraud because the company could have got your details illegally.
2. Contact the parking company if they’re an ATA member
You can find a parking company’s contact details on the BPA or IPC websites or on the Parking Charge Notice.
Check on the notice if you must appeal on the parking company’s website or if you can write to them with your reasons for objecting.
Appealing directly to the parking company is called making an informal appeal – you must do this before you make a formal appeal. There are template letters on the Citizens Advice website which you can use to write to the parking company.
Include any evidence you have, for example:
a valid pay and display ticket
photos of signs that are hard to see or understand, or where the information is misleading
a letter from someone who was with you saying what happened – write ‘Witness statement’ at the top of this
a repair note, if your car broke down
For a hospital parking ticket, you should send evidence to the parking company if your appointment was running late.
Ask the hospital receptionist to print a note on headed paper, saying there were delays.
If you are appealing the parking ticket it is advisable not to pay this. Usually, paying is seen as admitting the ticket was right – so you won’t be able to appeal it once you’ve paid. If you’re worried about not paying, call whoever gave you the ticket and ask them to confirm that you shouldn’t pay if you’re appealing.
Challenging the ticket doesn’t extend the 14 day limit for paying a reduced charge - unless the operator agrees to extend the period, which they’re not required to do.
3. Make a formal appeal
If you have exhausted all avenues with the company’s internal complaints and appeals process you can then move on and take a formal complaint to the trade association that they’re a member of(either the BPA or the IPC).
This only applies to firms in the British Parking Association (BPA) Approved Operator Scheme or the Independent Parking Committee (IPC) Independent Appeals Service.
If the independent adjudicator agrees with you, the charge will be cancelled.
If your appeal is refused, the company can carry on seeking payment and ultimately has the option of taking you to the small claims court.
For further help get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice at www.citizensadvice.co.uk.