Got an unfair ticket? Here's how to fight it

Parking… fines, lines and saving cash – updated


Parking… it’s a word that strikes fear into the heart of motorists across the country. From locating a space to fighting off the unwanted advances of ticket-wielding wardens, Brits are finding it harder than ever to park the nation’s 35million vehicles. Don’t think it’s going to get any easier – the number of UK cars has increased yearly since World War 2.

Slogging your way through the UK’s clogged automotive arteries can be difficult enough, but it’s when the wheels stop turning that your problems really begin. Don’t despair, though, our complete guide to parking has the answers you need.

What’s new in 2015: Latest parking updates

Latest news

Latest news

Keeping up to date with parking rules can help prevent tickets. Here’s the latest for 2014/15

10-minute grace period confirmed for March: Hold that ticket, Mr!

The 10-minute ‘grace period’ will be introduced to add a grace period of 10 minutes after your ticket runs out for on-street parking. Parking adjudicators will be obliged to follow this statutory advice and uphold appeals when the ticket was issued within 10 minutes of the ticket or parking period expiring. Applies to council-owned parking spaces only. If you get a penalty within 10 mins of your ticket expiring, the adjudicator will have to allow it. This will take effect from late March 2015.

Spy cars: Who's watching you

In a victory for drivers, the Government has banned councils from using cctv ‘spy cars’ to cruise the streets and issue unsuspecting motorists with tickets through the post – denying drivers the opportunity to gather supporting evidence to challenge the penalties. All standard tickets will now need to be physically stuck to the car’s windscreen. The use of cctv-issued tickets will be restricted to areas such as schools, bus lanes and red routes.


Discount after appeals: Win or lose

Unsuccessful appeals against parking tickets removes the 50% discount for paying the fine early. Addressing this, the Government is trialling a 25% discount for drivers who lose an appeal at tribunal. This is designed to encourage more drivers to challenge charges they believe to be unfair.

Parking at out-of-order meters: Tell us the truth

Changing guidance so motorists parking at an out-of-order meter are not fined if there are no alternative ways to pay.

New rights for residents and businesses: Power to the people

Has the council suddenly painted yellow lines outside your house or introduced charges for parking? New rights will allow you to demand a review of parking in your area – including restrictions and charges. Get together with your neighbours and local businesses and start bothering the local council.

Being nice to drivers: All you need is love

Councils have been told to be less heavy-handed with motorists – preventing the over-aggressive use of bailiffs. If a council is harassing you for payment of a parking fine write an official complaint and then contact the Local Government Ombudsman here.

How much money are councils making: We're just cash cows on wheels

Figures from the RAC Foundation reveal that council in England made a combined surplus of £667 million from on- and off-road parking charges and fines in 2013-2014.

Where the cash is going: Champagne and Caviar?

Councils will be forced to publish information detailing where cash raised from parking charges is being spent.

Widen powers of the parking adjudicator: He's the man

This will allow adjudicators take direct action against areas such as poor signs or dubious methods of enforcement by ordering an authority to stop issuing tickets or change signage.

Freeze on penalty charges: Money's too tight to mention

Councils will not be able to increase parking fines until May 2015 at the earliest – when the General Election takes place.

It’s all signs, lines and penalty fines…

Have you got your doctorate in deciphering confusing road lines and signs, yet? No, then beat the parking bandits with our easy-to-read interactive guide to the most common and confusing parking signs, lines and other restrictions. Simply hover your cursor over the hot spots for more info,

Fines: These will vary depending where you are. Most councils are now in control of enforcing parking regulations, so visiting the local authority’s website is likely to have a page dedicated to parking fines. Find your local council here.

Find your space and save cash

Roll-up for cheap parking

Roll-up for cheap parking

Parking can be an expensive business, but following our price-busting guide to finding a space could save you plenty of cash – and slash the risk of falling victim to parking fines.

Stock up on change: Don’t pay for parking you don’t use:

Stock up on change: Don’t pay for parking you don’t use:
Unlike other ticketing machines, the science of being able to dispense change hasn’t been developed for the parking industry as yet. Strangely, most providers will also price units of parking at fees that exceed the nearest pound… for example, an hour of  parking will likely be charged at £1.10 rather than £1.00. Obviously this is determined by hard economics and not simply because many people will only have pound coins – giving the authority a 90p profit. Additionally, turning up in a car park with no change could result in getting a ticket as you nip into a nearby shop to grab some. Also – look for payment apps for the car park to download to your phone.
How to save cash: Most people hate carrying ‘shrapnel’ in any case, so simply find a cubbyhole in your car and deposit change there whenever you get it. If you’ve got no change at all, simply pull into a garage and break your note or pound coin by purchasing a cheap tabloid. You’ll still be better off and have the satisfaction of not lining the pockets of your local council.

Choose wisely: Locate the cheapest spaces before you leave home:

Choose wisely: Locate the cheapest spaces before you leave home:
Parking fees can vary by considerable amount of cash in large town, with big savings to be made by just moving a few streets further from the centre. Research before you leave home to make big savings.
How to save cash: Head to website Parkopedia and type in the postcode of where you’re visiting. We looked for parking near the Shard in London and managed to find a public car park that was 50% cheaper than most other car parks in the area. Along with prices, you can also filter your search to types of car park and get a list of security features.

Inter-city parking: Park outside of town:

Inter-city parking: Park outside of town:
Heading for a night in one of the UK’s cities? Then it might well be cheaper to park outside town and take the train instead… even if your town doesn’t have a railway station.
How to save cash: Taking a theoretical trip to a swanky central London hotel for the weekend, we compared parking in a car park in Westminster with reserving a space at a APH airport parking near Gatwick and taking the free transfer bus to Gatwick and catching a train. Here’s how it worked out…

Parking in NCP car park WestminsterParking at APH Airport Parking
Price for 48 hours £100.00
Total: £100.00
Price for 48 hours parking £19.28
Price for return to London from Gatwick £30.00
Total: £49.28

Contact APH Airport Parking

Share the cost: Grab a lift and save cash

Share the cost: Grab a lift and save cash
If you use your car to commute to work then parking can be a big drain on your earning. Parking for a working week can cost anything from £30.00 for a rural town such as East Grinstead in Sussex, to £250.00 for those who park in London.
How to save cash: Regardless of whether you need to park on a daily commute, or are just making a one-off trip, looking for or offering a lift share can halve you expenses – including parking and fuel. Enter your requirements or route that you’re offering into a website such as and get saving.
Visit Liftshare

Pay and save: Get a weekly or monthly ticket

Pay and save: Get a weekly or monthly ticket
Once again, this one’s for those who use a car park on a daily basis. It might sound obvious, but not everyone takes advantage of buying a monthly or weekly ticket.
How to save cash: Call the operator of your favourite car park and ask for season ticket prices. Many will offer weekly, monthly, or annual tickets for their car park. In a typical Mid-Sussex, council-owned car park buying an annual ticket can save pots of cash. Working around 261 days a year will cost £1,566 at the daily price of £6.00, while buying a yearly ticket would cost £550.00.

Go private: Park on a local’s driveway

Go private: Park on a local’s driveway
Whether you’re working or just visiting one of the UK’s city’s, renting space on a local’s driveway or communal car park can save a bucket of cash. Money Saving Export found that parking in Manchester city centre car park would cost around £140.00 per month, while this could be slashed to as low as £75.00 by using a park share car park.
How to save cash: Head to one of the websites we list below and add your details and check out the savings.
Head to: or

Profit from parking: Earn cash while you’re away

Profit from parking: Earn cash while you’re away
Local councils and private firms make millions from it, so why not grab a piece of their cash for yourself and sell your driveway to space-hungry car drivers looking for a safe haven away from the clutches of wardens and clampers.
How to earn cash: If you live in a large town or city and have a parking space that’s empty while you’re away, why not rent it out. Depending where you live, you could earn anything from £100 – £200+ per month.
Read this excellent guide from

Park safe

Park safely

Park safely

Not all car parks are made equal, with some nothing more than a handy place for criminals to operate with virtual impunity. When parking in a town or city you’re not familiar with, make sure you pick a Park Mark Safer Parking awarded car park. This means it’s been vetted by the police and has good measures in place to protect both you and your car.

Use the Park Mark safer car park finder here.

Got a parking ticket… what next

Got an unfair ticket? Here's how to fight it

Got an unfair ticket? Here’s how to fight it

Bad or dangerous parking deserves to be punished, but it’s clear that many councils and private operators view fines as a legitimate source of revenue to be aggressively chased. This is unacceptable and motorists who’ve been targeted by dubious ticketing methods and unscrupulous private parking firms shouldn’t pay without a fight. Read on to find out how to challenge the parking bandits…

How to: Challenge a parking ticket

Follow this guide to appealing against parking tickets you believe to be unfair.

Step 1: Collect evidence

Got a ticket that you know is wrong? Don’t get angry and rip it up before driving speeding off in a cloud of smoke. Stay cool – and start collecting your evidence to get your penalty cancelled. Here’s what to do.

Don’t rip up the ticket: This could be your best piece of evidence. Civil enforcement officers, traffic warden and police need to correctly complete their tickets and any omissions or mistakes will render it void. Check that the following information is present and correct.

You should be able to clearly see the following information:

The date when it was served
The name of the enforcement authority
The registration number of the vehicle
The date and time of the alleged contravention
The reason for the issuing of the ticket
The amount of the penalty charge
A statement that the penalty charge must be paid within 28 days
A statement that only half the charge will need to paid if it is paid within 14 days
Instructions regarding how to pay the charge
Information about grounds for appeal and the appeal process.

These rules won’t apply to ‘tickets’ from private parking firms.

Smartphone photos: Use your smartphone to take as many photos as possible to support your case. Show poorly marked or covered road lines, obscured of damaged signs and anything else that’s relevant to your case.

Location, location, location: Sometimes you’ll need to prove the exact position of your car, so taking a photo of it using most smartphones will save something called Exif data. This digitally embeds the GPS co-ordinates, time and various other information within the image. This can then be read at a later date to provide a host of information that might help your appeal. This is also useful for finding your exact location if you’re in a strange town or city.
Read Exif data from your pictures here.

Time expired: Parked on a street and returned to find your ticket expired a few minutes before, but a ticket is already decorating your windscreen? The Government has advised that on-street parkers should be given a 10 minute ‘grace period’ before receiving a penalty. Make sure you retain your permit to park and match this against the time on the penalty ticket.

Documents: Don’t forget to keep any documents that might be used to support mitigating circumstances such as a breakdown – where something like a receipt from the AA will help boost your claim.

Witnesses: Anyone who can corroborate your version of events will help your case. Make sure you have a voice recorder app downloaded to  your smartphone for instant and complete witness statements.

Step 2: What sort of ticket have you been issued

This will tell you where to lodge your appeal or whether you should ignore the ticket altogether.

Read on to identify the ‘penalty ticket’ and type of  appeal you need to follow

Parking tickets come from four different types of operators and fall under civil or criminal law. Criminal tickets will be issued by old-style traffic wardens or police officers, while civil law-based tickets will be issued by most local councils, private parking firms and Transport for London.

The four issuing agencies are as follows…

Local councils: Most councils took control of parking away from the police, which means tickets are issued under civil law. This makes them easier to challenge. Not all councils have signed up to this scheme but a vast majority have.
Find out if the ticket-issuing council has joined the Civil Parking Enforcement System (CPE) here
Type of ticket for CPE councils: Penalty Charge Notice (PCN)
Type of appeal: Civil

Transport for London: If you’ve been issued a ticket for parking on red lines in London, the notice will have come from Transport for London. This should be made clear on the ticket.
Type of ticket: Penalty Charge Notice (PCN)
Type of appeal: Civil

Police: This also includes old-style traffic wardens who work for the cops and who are not to be confused with civil enforcement officers who are employed by councils. Some of the tickets they issue will come under criminal law. These tickets will include the name of the police force and quote the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.
Type of ticket: Fixed Penalty Notice
Type of appeal: Criminal

Private parking operators: If you’ve parked in a business’s car park or shopping centre, for example, you are entering into a contract with the landowner and this comes under civil law. Many private operators will try to make their ticket look like a police-issued Fixed Penalty Notice to prompt people into paying without questioning its validity. If it hasn’t got the name of a local authority or police force on it, then it will have been issued by a private operator.
Type of ticket: No official name – they are merely invoices asking you to pay
Type of appeal: Private

Now appeal against that ticket

By using Step 2 you’ll know what appeal path you’ll need to follow, so simply click the relevant section below.

Civil: Click here to start your appeal

Grounds for appeal: There’s no point in appealing your ticket without any good to do so – just being angry doesn’t count. To be in with a chance of success, you’ll need to satisfy at least one of these grounds for appeal:

1. The contravention did not occur: There is no case to answer and the issuing agent got it wrong. This covers everything from incorrect signage to contradictory information.

2. The penalty exceeded the amount applicable in the circumstances of the case: There are strict limits on what you can be charged for this type of ticket, so being overcharged is a legitimate reason to appeal. The amounts will be published on the issuing authority’s website.

3. The relevant Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) is invalid: This is where a new traffic restriction – such a double yellow line – was introduced without the authority following correct procedure. This is an unlikely avenue of appeal, but worth investigating if rules have recently changed where it was previously legitimate to park

4. There has been a procedural impropriety by the council: This could occur when the council or issuer has made an error on the ticket or subsequent Notice To Owner letter. Look closely for inaccuracies or omissions.

You should be able to clearly see the following information:

The date when it was served
The name of the enforcement authority
The registration number of the vehicle
The date and time of the alleged contravention
The reason for the issuing of the ticket
The amount of the penalty charge
A statement that the penalty charge must be paid within 28 days
A statement that only half the charge will need to paid if it is paid within 14 days
Instructions regarding how to pay the charge
Information about grounds for appeal and the appeal process.

If any of this information is missing or incorrect, it’s likely you’ll win your appeal.

5. The appellant did not own the vehicle when the alleged contravention occurred: This is where the offence occurred but you weren’t the owner – i.e you’d just bought or sold the vehicle. Log book records should win your appeal

6. The owner is a vehicle hire firm and the vehicle was on hire under a qualifying hiring agreement: This is for hire car owners and not relevant to this guide.

7. The vehicle was taken without the owner’s consent: If the vehicle was stolen and the offence committed by the thief, then you have a good case. Make sure you have a crime number to prove you reported the theft to cops.

8. The penalty’s already been paid (i) in full; or (ii) at the discount rate and in time: Get proof from your bank or any emailed receipts.

Mitigating circumstances: If the above don’t apply, but you have mitigating circumstances such as suffering a health event, breakdown, bereavement or similar, then collect proof and use as grounds for your appeal.

New 10-minute rule: If you were parked on the street and fined within 10-minutes of your ticket expiring, cite the Government’s new advice on the10-minute ‘grace period’. Keep your parking ticket and match it up against the time on the Penalty Charge Notice.

Make the civil appeal.
Now you have grounds for appeal, here’s how to lodge it…

Stage 1: Informal appeal
You will need to do this once the ticket has been slapped on your windscreen. If you were towed or clamped, just move on to the next stage.

Contact the council: You’ll find the address, email and other contact methods on the ticket. Write to the council and explain your grounds for appeal and request they cancel the ticket. Submit (copies) of all the evidence you have to back up your appeal to prove you have a case and intend to take the case further. This will cost them time and effort so the council may decide to do cut its losses and cancel the ticket. Send the appeal within the 14-day 50% discount period as many councils will let you pay the lower amount even if they reject your appeal – should you decide to pay it at this stage.

They agree – you win…
They reject your claim – move on to next stage

Stage 2: The formal appeal process
Depending on how  you get to this stage, you will at some point receive an appeal form. You can also add a separate letter to go into more detail. Make sure you resend all the evidence to support your claim. The council must respond to your appeal within 56 days or you will automatically win. Make sure you keep electronic receipts or postal records to prove when you lodged the formal appeal.

They agree – you win…
They reject your formal appeal – move on to next stage

Stage 3: Appeal to Independent tribunal
If  your formal appeal is rejected, you’ll receive a Notice of Rejection of Representations letter and a Notice of Appeal to continue your challenge at an independent tribunal. You must submit this appeal within 28 days of receiving the form. The time will start two days from the letter’s date.

Going to the adjudicator is free and independent. They are accepted to be fair and not afraid to challenge councils. A large number of these appeals are successful, so don’t think it’s not worth carrying on because your formal challenge was rejected.

Now all you need to do is make your appeal. Many of the tribunal bodies will let you apply online, providing you have your Notice to Appeal from the council. This will have a reference on it that you will need to enter.

Choose the body for you then make your appeal:

England and Wales (not London):
Traffic Penalty Tribunal.

The Scottish Parking Appeals Service: Call 0131 221 0409.

Northern Ireland:
Northern Ireland Traffic Penalty Tribunal. 

The Parking and Traffic Appeals Service. 

Final result:
You win – ticket is cancelled
You lose – pay the fine within 28 days or it can rise by 50%
The appeal is adjourned – more information is required
The appeal is dismissed but the adjudicator believes there to be reasons why the penalty should not stand – this can include mitigating circumstances that you submitted. The adjudicator will ask the council or issuing body to consider waiving the charge. It has 35 days to respond. If it doesn’t – you win.

Case closed!

Criminal: Click here to start your appeal

Grounds for appeal: Contact the issuing police force for guidance, or read the ‘grounds for appeal’ section of the ‘Civil’ process, above, as most sections apply to Criminal appeals.

You should realise from the outset that your chance of winning an appeal against a police-issued parking ticket is much lower than if it was a council ticket.

Stage 1: Informal appeal
Only official appeals are allowed against police tickets, but some forces will consider informal representations. The ticket or release form (if you’ve been clamped or towed) will let you know if this is the case. If you can, simply send a letter outlining your reasons and including copies of supporting information.

They accept your appeal – you win~
They reject your appeal – you move on to the formal appeal

Stage 2: Contest the case
You will now get a Notice To Owner form giving options to pay the charge, nominate a different driver who was in charge of the vehicle at the time of the offence or ask for the case to be heard at a magistrates’ court. If you fail to respond to this notice within 28 days, the fine will increase by 50%. If you are determined to challenge the ticket, you will need to opt for a court hearing. It’s likely that you will need to take legal advice ahead of the hearing. In most cases you will need to finance this yourself. In reality, it may be financially prudent to cut your losses and pay the reduced fee and avoid the 50% increment and hefty legal bills.

Our verdict: Unlike councils and private firms, the UK’s cops are disciplined and adhere closely to strict guidelines. If a bobby issues a ticket, the chances are you deserve it – so paying is likely to be the smart move.

You win – great, but you’re unlikely to win costs to cover legal fees
You lose – you pay 50% more on the fine along with few hundred pounds in legal fees

Case closed!

Private ticket: Click here to start your appeal

First things first, if you get a ticket in a private car park, don’t pay it without a little additional investigation. Despite dubious attempts to label the tickets as ‘Penalty Charge Notices’ demanding a ‘fine’ for an ‘offence’ that you’ve committed, the document is nothing more than an speculative invoice inviting you to pay for a breach of contract between you and the landowner. Many of these are not enforceable and the use of wording such as ‘fine’ ‘offence’ is actually banned – you have not committed an offence and they have no right to fine you. Figures show that as many as 45% of appeals against these ‘tickets’ are successful.

Remember, the only way that private firms can make you pay is by taking you to court, where the evidence will be properly reviewed. They will be forced to pay for this, while you won’t. Additionally, they can’t put black marks on your credit reference – despite what they say – because you don’t officially owe them any money.

Stage 1: Check who the firm is
Private parking firms have a cosy arrangement with the DVLA that allows them to side-step the data protection act and get your name and address from your car’s registration number – but only if they are members of an accredited trade body. Check out these trade bodies to see if the parking firm is a member:

If the firm that clamped you isn’t on either of these lists, the chances are they are cowboys and have no legitimate access to DVLA information. Do not contact them under any circumstances as this will merely give them your name and address. Ignore the letter and get on with life.

The parking firm is not an accredited member – they can’t get your details and you win
They are a member – they get your details, so start the appeal process

Stage 2: Appeal to the operator
Providing the parking operator is a member of the trade bodies above, then make your appeal directly to the company. The ‘ticket’ should include details of how and where to appeal. Outline why the ticket was unfair – reasons such as unclear signage, excessive demands for compensation – and remember to include photographic evidence.

It accepts your argument and cancels ticket – you look up and watch the pigs fly by
It ignores you – you win… oh and look, more flying pigs
It rejects you appeal but cancels ticket – you win… this could happen
It rejects your appeal and demands cash – move onto the next stage of appeal

Stage 3: Appeal through POPLA
This is the official appeals process; Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) for the BPA and Independent Appeals Service (IAS) for the IPC. Appealing through POPLA will need a reference number that should have been given to you when your original appeal to the operator failed. Visit IPC’s website for information on getting your reference number for its members.

Ground for appeal to POPLA and IAS
IAS allows appeals on all grounds, while POPLA sets out the following requirements:

The vehicle was not improperly parked.
The parking charge exceeds the relevant amount.
The vehicle was stolen.
I am not liable for the parking charge.

Visit the website here for details on how to submit your appeals

Remember to send all supporting  evidence.  The appeal should take no more than 35 days, while IAS usually issues a decision within 14 days.

You win – victory against the cowboys
You lose – you pay up or refuse to pay and take your chances in court – if the parking operator bothers to take it that far.

Appy days… get your smartphone to park your car for you
Parking perils don’t just include getting a ticket, the physical act itself can be just as infuriating. Attempting to find a space on Britain’s clogged highways can leave you attempting to parallel park in a space that appears to be no bigger than a box of matches from the driving space, but akin to a gap the size of a football pitch to the hooded youth that’s stopped to mock your parking as he sips from a can of cheap cider. Help is at hand, you can now let your smartphone do the parking for you. The system uses 12 car-mounted sensors and automatically parks your car with just a tap of your smartphone’s screen. It should be available during 2015. See it in action here.


5 thoughts on “Parking… fines, lines and saving cash – updated

  1. Joseph Hackett

    I parked in a residents only parking area,only trouble is all the house’s have been demolished.Have l still got to pay the fine?

  2. Andy

    is there a ten minute grace period in private car parks? I was filmed leaving after one hour four minutes.
    Could I say the car was not running well and that I left the space on time but it took four minutes to reach the exit.

    1. Pete Barden Post author

      Hi – There is no grace period in private car parks, but follow our advice on such car parks and decide if it is a legit car park or not and if you should pay at all.


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