Today I spotted an interesting post on the Money Saving Expert forum. An ex-private parking industry worker posted an open letter that the IPC sent to the BPA. It appears that the IPC is getting concerned that the BPA’s calls for government regulation of the industry will impact it’s business.
Over recent months the BPA and the Independent Scrutiny Board for Parking Appeals (IPSA) have made many public statements (examples here, here, here, and here) about the ‘race to the bottom’ being generated by the competition in the industry. The main (only?) reason a parking company has ATA membership is to access the DVLA keeper database, and the IPC have provided a much more commercially attractive way of doing this. As such, parking companies have been leaving in droves to the IPC.
Presumably this triggered the open letter back to the BPA; download the letter here – IPC_BPA_open_letter). Whilst it is billed as an open letter, it was not published on it’s website, nor in any publication to this writer’s knowledge. Presumably they have sent it to both their own members and those of the BPA.
The letter itself is quite amusing, containing both typos and logical fallacies (certainly this writer has never heard of heathy competion). Highlights include:
Sign and letter auditing
The IPC rightly acknowledge that they audit every sign and letter issued by its operators to confirm compliance agains their code of practice. In comparison the BPA are less stringent, and the lack of quality in signage and correspondence is a source of a large number of complaints to them. This auditing is crucial to the IPCs business model – it means that the IPC have reassurance that the tickets are enforceable (in their eyes at least), and there are therefore fewer reasons to cancel the ticket at appeal. The IPC go on to infer this being a reason why it has higher standards. However, this completely ignores theirs other failings, such as those identified by Parking Prankster (e.g Independent Parking Committee Kangaroo Court Exposed).
Concern about regulation
In the letter the IPC openly state it is worried about government regulation, including how stringent controls on ANPR could be introduced (Ed: apart from parking companies, who wouldn’t want strong regulation on the use of CCTV?!). One might suggest that government regulation might mean the IPC’s ability to deliver a commercially attractive ATA business is reduced.
The most ironic statement in the letter is that they “agree that there is need for greater transparency of the roles of Accredited Trade Associations”. One of the biggest criticisms of the IPC is the lack of transparency. Examples include:
- No annual report from the Independent Appeals Service
- Not sharing operator evidence with the appelant
- Not naming the assessor
If they feel there’s not enough transparency by ATAs, what is stopping them providing it?! Having called for transparency, they then go on to sign the letter ‘The IPC’ – they couldn’t even put a name to the letter!
Win / loss ratio
The IPC pick upon an interesting point in terms of win/loss ratios for independent appeals. Since its introduction, POPLA has hovered around the 50/50 rate. It’s not known what the win/loss rate for the IPC’s IAS is since they don’t produce a public report (going back to the point on lack of transparency). However, one can infer from the letter that it is much higher in the operators favour. The IPC criticise the BPA for this, suggesting that if half of appeals are upheld, then that means that the BPA are allowing operators to issue unfair or unlawful tickets. However, this author is not sure that logic holds.
The BPA have long overseen operators issue tickets for damages where the amount claimed could not possibly be a genuine pre-estimate of loss. Appelants could regularly get tickets cancelled by POPLA citing this as an argument. It appears that the IPC believe (and this author agrees) that the BPA should have taken action at the time against operators who knowingly issued tickets that were not lawful. However, this area is now not so clear since the Beavis Vs ParkingEye case which has said such tickets do not need to represent a GPEOL. So the question of such tickets being unlawful is now not so clear, and will not be clear until the case has been heard at the Supreme Court.
The second point is that there will always be a proportion of tickets issued unfairly. This is not to suggest that operators issue unfair tickets intentionally, but humans will make mistakes. Perhaps the proportion could be reduced through training and improved processes, but they will always exist.
Presumably the IPC want to get the ratio to as near 100% as possible in favour of the operator. Whilst this is probably impossible anyway (for the reasons stated above), it would rightly or wrongly reduce consumer confidence in the appeals service and strengthen views that these appeals services are ‘kangaroo courts’.
So it appears that the IPC are worried by the BPAs actvities to change the industry. And the BPA are worried about the IPCs business model eroding a large part of their business and their influence.
It will be interesting to see what the government do with regards to private parking following their recent consultation.