Retail car parks are often managed by 3rd party private parking companies, such as Parking Eye, UK Parking Control, or Excel. These companies are employed by the land owner to provide parking management services. Typically the service is offered for free – this is because the ‘fines’ they issue mean it is a profitable enterprise. Unfortunately, they tend to ‘aggressively’ enforce the parking rules, issuing £100 tickets to unsuspecting motorists. Examples of aggressive enforcement include:
- Leaving the car park to visit nearby shops
- Staying over the stated maximum time
- Parking outside of a marked bay
- Parking in a bay not intended for them (disabled, parent with child)
Private parking companies even go to the expense of installing ANPR systems (Automatic Number Plate Recognition). These cameras monitor cars going in and out of the supermarket in order to determine how long each stayed there. For each car that stayed longer than the stated maximum time, the system will automatically send a parking ticket to the registered keeper of the car – a licence to print money!
The question is how strictly should these rules be enforced? For example, if I were to stay ten minutes over the 2 hour limit to have a coffee in the cafe, do I deserve a £100 ‘fine’? If the car park is empty and I park on the line of the bay, does it cause loss to the shops? If I use the shops, but then pop into the shop over the road, is that really a problem? These are the kind of situations that have meant people have received tickets and been relentlessly pursued for payment.
Parking in disabled spaces without displaying blue badges also attracts parking tickets – see our specific article here.
So, what should you do if you receive a parking ticket at a retail park? Firstly, if you think it’s been issued unfairly, tell the shops and/or the landowner – ask to speak to the manager and tell them – they will be able to get the ticket cancelled. From the shop’s perspective it’s much more important to keep you as a customer than to lose you over a parking ticket. If that fails, then read my site on how to deal with them, starting here…
It should also be noted that retail parks often have parking constraints written into the planning permission, and quite often these are not adhered to. Contact your council’s planning department and ask them for details. You may just catch the parking company out…
Please note, some retail parks use council-owned car parks, so you should look up specific advice on how to deal with these.