Parking Tickets...
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Defending yourself against Clamping and Removal.
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It’s every motorist’s worst nightmare... you park your car for a few minutes, only to return to find it with a parking ticket... clamped... or even worse... towed away.  As well as the delay and inconvenience, you will undoubtedly be asked to pay a substantial fee as well.
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Clamping and removal have been around for many years, though originally they were limited to busy town and city centres.  The police were once the only people with the power to remove illegally parked vehicles, but they used this power only to deal with vehicles that were dangerously parked or causing an obstruction.  Clamping was sometimes used as a deterrent in places where illegal parking was seen as a particular problem.
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All that changed with the arrival of decriminalised parking enforcement, however.  This system, first introduced in London in 1994, allowed local councils to take over the enforcement of parking regulations from the police.  It’s no coincidence that, from then on, both clamping and removal have become far more common: [2001 = 795,000: 2005 = 3.4million.]  For many councils, clamping hapless motorists with nowhere else to park provides a valuable boost to their finances.  And councils with [very expensive] removal trucks and equipment have every incentive to issue a parking ticket to anyone parked ‘illegally’ rather than letting them stand idle.
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Private clampers operating on private land [e.g. pub or shop car parks] are an even more serious hazard for the motorist.  They are unregulated, can charge any fee they like for releasing your vehicle, and will often only accept cash as payment.  Although there have been calls for action to regulate clamping on private land since 1993, as yet no action has been taken, and clamping is still seen by many less-than-savoury operators as a licence to print money.
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So what can you do to avoid being held over a barrel in this way?  Obviously, the best solution is to avoid being clamped in the first place.  However, if you are unfortunate enough to suffer this fate, there is one very good defence you can use.  The law says that, to be clamped legally, 'a driver must give his consent to this happening, otherwise the clamping is illegal'.  Therefore, if there are no warning signs to indicate this... or the signs are not sufficiently prominent... the clamping may not be enforceable.
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A case in the Court of Appeal in April 2000 against the London Borough of Waltham Forest showed how this principle can work in a motorist’s favour.  The plaintiff, Marina Vine, won her case because the judges accepted her argument that she had not seen signs indicating that unauthorised vehicles would be clamped.  This case demonstrated that clampers must ensure that warning signs are sufficiently prominent to prove beyond doubt that motorists parking illegally have consented to the risk of clamping.  If motorists say that they did not see the signs, the clampers cannot simply say ‘tough’ and demand payment.
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Exactly this same principle was applied by a motorist called Peter Cartner in October 2002 to defend himself against an accusation of criminal damage.  Cartner used a crowbar to remove two wheel clamps from his car which he had left in the car park of the Black Bull pub in Haworth, Yorkshire.  There were signs stating that unauthorised vehicles would be clamped, but Cartner argued he did not believe they would apply to him, as he knew the landlord.  The magistrates accepted his argument that he did not think he was at risk, and therefore did not give his consent to being clamped.  In fact, the landlord Cartner knew had moved on, but Cartner said it was only after being clamped that he found out about this.
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Obviously magistrates would require a good reason for accepting that you had not consented to the risk of clamping... but if you have one, there is a very good possibility you can remove the clamps yourself and legally avoid paying the removal fee.
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Parking Tickets.
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Handing out parking tickets is now a £1billion industry... rather than a genuine attempt to keep the road network flowing freely.  The work is often carried out on behalf of local councils by over-zealous private contractors... who are out to make as much money as they can.  They will literally, issue a fine the minute your parking ticket... metre... runs out.  But, unlike being given a parking ticket by a Police officer... if a parking attendant or traffic warden is in the middle of writing out a parking ticket... there is nothing to stop you jumping in your car and driving off.  If they don't fix it to your vehicle... it is not valid.  [April 2008: there are some changes to this... it is now possible to get parking fines sent through the post if you get caught on cctv... though this is expected to apply mainly to those who stop along a red-route or on double yellow lines... rather than those who have exceeded the time limit on a pay-and-display parking ticket.]
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Companies will often try to intimidate drivers by suggesting that unpaid penalties will be increased.  This could happen if you just ignore the problem and the courts... bailiffs become involved.  But if you make a formal objection... the amount of the fine is frozen until the issue is settled.  So, if you don't want to just hand over the cash... don't!  Fight them and you might very well win.  The number of appeals has risen by 30% in the last year alone... and about 2 in 3 of those who object to a parking ticket win their appeals.
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How to Appeal...
Start by appealing direct to the Council... let them know that the parking ticket was unjustified.  You have... witnesses... evidence... 'proof'... and you will fight them all the way.  They're a lot more interested in raking in some easy cash than defending any 'principles'... so, if they think they are in for a fight they might just back off.
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[See... Beat the Wheel Clampers.  You won't have to argue with the clamping thugs.  And you won't have to fill out lots of complex paperwork.  Just pay the fine as normal, then send off a simple template letter.  Your money will be refunded within a couple of weeks.  [You'll need this info before you get clamped.]
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If they don't... wait for the official paperwork and fill in the forms and contest it officially with an Independent Parking Adjudicator.  There are two relevant addresses that might come in handy if you get a parking ticket...
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Outside London. In a London borough
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[NPAS] National Parking [PTAS] Parking and Traffic
Adjudication Service, Appeals Service,
6th Floor, P.O. Box 1010,
Barlow House, Sutton,
Minshull Street, Surrey,
Manchester, SM1 4SW.
M1 3DZ. I
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Parking Attendants often bend or break rules to meet their targets... earn a commission... and have been found breaking rules on numerous occasions... so their evidence at a hearing will not necessarily be accepted.  The NPAS has specifically said that councils must not play "fast and loose" with the legal restrictions that apply to issuing Tickets.  In 2006 57% of all appeals heard were successful.  Your chances of success will also depend on which council you are up against... 'Ribble Valley' didn't even contest many of their appeals and lost 100% of the time... while 'Reigate and Banstead' vigorously contested everything and lost only 9% of the time.
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Check all the details on the Parking Ticket... their paperwork is often sloppy or illegible... and if they haven't filled in all the boxes properly the ticket should be invalid.  Check... Time: Date: Street: Registration Number: etc.  Also check that road markings are sufficiently clear.  Wardens will often issue instant parking tickets to people who stop on double yellow lines.  If you 'Park'... lock up and leave the vehicle, they can give you a parking ticket.  If you are 'Waiting'... just sitting in your vehicle, they can still give you a parking ticket, [although you can always drive away before they complete it.]  But, you are allowed to 'Stop' on double yellow lines in order to 'load' or 'unload' your vehicle: [unless there are also yellow markings on the kerb... then you can't.]  
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The rules here are rather messy and open to interpretation... 'Loading' only covers heavy, awkward packages or multiple trips.  So you would probably be o.k. if you were moving house, but it doesn't cover someone with a couple of bags of shopping.  Somewhere in between there is plenty of scope for disagreement with a traffic warden as to what constitutes 'Loading'.  So, make sure you know your rights, read what it says in The Highway Code, and take note of any signs which give details about Stopping, Standing, Waiting, Parking or Loading.
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If there are any "independent witnesses" that can back up what you say try to get their names and addresses.  [i.e. not one of your friends... although I guess if would be rather difficult for them to prove that any witness was not truly "independent".]
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If you are contesting an expired 'Pay-and-Display' ticket... if would be very beneficial to your case if you actually had a parking ticket which covered the time and date that the Penalty Notice was issued: [even though you could easily have asked some other departing motorist for their parking ticket.]  Insist that it was clearly displayed and that the Attendant had obviously not bothered looking very hard to find it.  [It might be helpful to see a parking attendant issuing a ticket because many of them now take digital photographs of the vehicle's windows and dashboard to prove there was not a valid ticket on display.]
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The NPAS has criticised councils whose wardens instantly slap tickets on cars whose drivers have gone for change to pay for their Ticket.  It said that... Motorists stuck at a paying machine behind a 'fumbling or indecisive' driver should be exempt from a Ticket.  NPAS said, 'Some councils hold the unbending belief that the motorist's duty is to have the right change in their possession before entering a car park... whatever the circumstances.  Others appear to regard the act of going for change as a contravention in its own right.  This is not the case'.
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Your case would be that much stronger if the council had contributed to your absence in any way.  It may be that you did bring the right change for a pay-and-display ticket machine... but, as is often the case... the machine would not accept one/some/any of the coins... and you still had to go off and get more change somewhere.  Or that you had to find 2? 3? 4? different ticket machines before you found one that was actually working.  In these kind of circumstances you can find yourself being 'punished' even though you have done absolutely nothing to deserve it!
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This may all seem like a lot of mucking about... but it shouldn't be something that takes up much of your time: [these people are relying on the fact that relatively few people will bother to contest their parking tickets.]  And if the worst comes to the worst... you will just have to pay up the amount of the original parking ticket.  The choice is yours!
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Private Car Parks...
Such as Shopping Centres and Supermarkets should have a board up near the entrance outlining the terms and conditions for use of the car park... costs, length of stay, etc.  The use of these car parks are dealt with under contract law and are different from parking on a public highway which comes under criminal law.  By entering the car park you are automatically agreeing to these terms... but the agreement is only between the owners of the property and the driver of the vehicle... not the owner of the vehicle.  If you receive a request for payment through the post you can inform them that you were not driving... you are not sure who was... and they have no legal right to force you to identify the driver.  [If they produce some evidence to show you were the driver it is better to say nothing than to deny it.]  If an official approaches you in the car park asking for details... you are under no obligation to assist them.
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People patrolling these car parks may look very official... and any ticket they give you will look very similar to those issued by the council... but they do not carry the same authority.  They work on the basis that many people will simply be intimidated into paying them.  If you do not they will have to take you to the Small Claims Court to get their money.  The ticket might say that there is a fixed penalty of £60-100 because you... overstayed the time limit... your ticket ran out... parked incorrectly in a bay??? which was a breach of contract.  But, they have no legal entitlement to impose a 'Fine'... even if you are 'guilty' they are only entitled to recover any 'loses' they might have suffered: [i.e. if they charge £2 per hour parking fees... and you over-stayed by 2 hours without paying... they would be entitled to £4... and that is all.]  These companies are not going to take this sort of case to court... so don't be intimidated by all the legal jargon on the ticket.  If you don't pay... they will give up.
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