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I'm not some mysterious parking enthusiast with a vendetta against the parking companies. I have two First-class Law degrees from Cambridge (at Bachelor's and Master's level): I know an injustice when I see one. I'm taking all the parking firms to court to get everyone refunded for good reasons. Here's a list of them.
1. Judges have already said its unlawful
Judges have already said that 'fining' £40, £80, £100 – whatever – for small parking errors (such as overstaying) is not legal. Whenever parking companies lose however, they ignore the judgment (county courts cannot set precedent) and carry on as if nothing ever happened. If you're interested in the legal reasoning, you can read about it here.
2. They prey upon the vulnerable and ambush unsuspecting drivers
...did I mention some NHS hospitals use private parking companies too?
Blue badge holders (disabled motorists) are also falling foul to the parking companies in high numbers, often because they overstay (they are slower to complete a grocery shop).
3. They are profiteering extraordinarily at your expense
Look at this graph:
These are worked out using the British Parking Association's figures. That's insane growth, and cannot be the result of a reasonable revenue model.
4. They've corrupted the DVLA
According to statements in Parliament, the DVLA is using tax-payer money to help the parking firms in their quest to charge us:
It is much more likely however that the DVLA is making a profit by selling data about us to the parking firms. The DVLA's statement about "making a loss" in the above screenshot is probably a lie. The DVLA will make around £1m in 2014 from selling on driver data. The DVLA – a government body – has been corrupted by its own greed.
The DVLA in 2010 denied both of these suggestions:
Huh? In the orange report above the DVLA admitted to using tax-payer money to help the parking firms. That would mean the DVLA is not keeping a consistent story. It is probably lying about "making a loss" too. Read more here.
5. Data Protection law is being broken
This is because the DVLA is passing on motorists' data, such as your home address, to the parking companies. They claim this is legally authorised but this cannot be correct. It's not legally authorised, under the current regime of the DVLA. I'll soon post a separate essay on the illegality for those interested.
Next, having purchased your information...
6. They exploit your psychology, and bully / intimidate people into paying
People are encouraged not to think (or fight their ground) with parking fines: drivers are instead encouraged to pay up as soon as possible via false discount 'bargains'
When people don't pay a parking charge, they are harassed with letter after letter from debt collection agencies and lawyers until they give up or are intimidated into paying.
Since 2012, the firms have begun taking people to court to make an example of those who think they can get away without paying. The parking operators in Scotland began doing this too this year.
7. The industry holds an annual gala to celebrate its "success"
At over £200 per head, every year the parking companies hold a celebration to mark the hundreds of millions of pounds they're extracting out of motorists.
A lot of awards are sponsored by the problematic and profit-driven companies that are handing out most of the 'fines'. Well done parking companies, for profiting through:
- threatening, scaring and intimidating people
- designing a business model based on "fines" that have weak legal standing
- corrupting the DVLA through getting them to sell on our personal data, so they can intimidate millions of drivers on an industrial scale
A lot of the winners of the Parking Awards are not the 'problematic' firms that do most of the dirty work, but the institution as a whole has clearly failed to self-regulate itself, and the idea of an awards ceremony that turns a blind-eye to this problem is an insult.
The parking issue affects Scotland too: the Citizens Advice in October 2014 launched the #ItsNotFine campaign. There, private parking 'fines' go as high as £200.
Is this something we ought to put up with?
Screw that! Let's fight back.
I'll take these parking firms and their outrageous 'fines' to court, but I need your help to spread the message. Add yourself to the mailing list, whether you have lost money or not, and I'll send details of how you can help spread the message to end this problem. You'll also receive a weekly summary of how ChallengeTheFine is progressing.