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Private parking fines costing taxpayers £1m

Over the past few months there’s been no shortage of news regarding private parking fines. In fact, many motorists, both with a private reg or traditional number plate, have had to alter their parking methods to ensure they’rdve not caught out by private land owners, making what some might call unscrupulous fines. Now, it’s been revealed that taxpayers are having to meet the almost £1m shortfall for the costs of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) supplying driver details to third parties.

In 2013, it was shown that around 2.6 million requests from private land owners were processed by the DVLA. The requests come as both ticket wardens and automatic registration recognition technology clocked motorists outstaying their welcome and wanted driver information as a result. Each request is subject to a fee, with the DVLA making a £6.7m income from the request process. However, it’s been revealed that the actual costs to the agency itself were £7.6m, resulting in taxpayers having to foot the £900,000 shortfall. This is because though the process costs £2.84 per time, the administration charge is only £2.50.

Luke Bosdet from the AA, said, “It’s a double whammy of these parking enforcers chasing up every fine that they can possibly pin on the drivers to maximise their profit while costing the taxpayer for the privilege.” Meanwhile, the RAC Foundation’s director, Professor Stephen Glaister, said, “Essentially you have got taxpayers bankrolling private companies. It is absurd that hardworking men and women are effectively subsidising private parking firms.”

The information came to light as the result of one motorist in Scotland receiving a fine from ParkingEye. The £85 fine was made after Mr Gavin Bell exceeded the half an hour parking limit on private land in Airdrie. Mr Bell refused to pay, whilst also making a freedom of information request after realising the DVLA had sold his details to the private parking firm.

Fines presented from private land holders may look official, but they actually aren’t. Firms can continue to pursue their demands by increasing penalties because of non-payment, but can only officially recover parking charges by taking motorists to a civil court. Currently, such is the lucrative nature of the system. Many parking firms offer their services to private land owners for free, in the knowledge that they’ll make huge profits by fining drivers who’ve not paid enough attention to the parking limits in place.

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