The Freight Transport Association has welcomed new regulations introduced under the Traffic Management Act 2004 aimed at making decriminalised parking enforcement more 'road user friendly'. The new regulations, which will take effect in March 2008, will give independent parking adjudicators increased powers in recognising the mitigating circumstances which have led to what are, technically, offences. FTA says that the new rules now provide flexibility on the imposition of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) and, at the same time, allow a realistic opportunity for companies to process them and, if necessary, a reasonable time to appeal against them.
For parking fines sent by post, the regulations will increase the time period to pay at the discounted rate for early settlement, or to make formal representations, from 14 to 21 days. With the increasing prevalence of CCTV as a means of parking enforcement, more and more PCNs will in future be sent by post rather than a ticket being attached to the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence. However, in many cases the PCN will be sent to the company's head office or to the vehicle leasing company, thus delaying notification of the event reaching the driver responsible for the vehicle, and the manager responsible for paying or challenging the fine, until it is too late to take action. A longer period of time to pay at the discounted rate will make it easier to deal with the PCN before the fine doubles.
FTA's Regional Policy Manager for London, South East and East of England, Natalie Chapman said, 'These amended regulations will result in a huge benefit for commercial vehicle operators and their drivers. The increased powers now with the adjudicators will, we hope, lead to the application of common sense when dealing with vehicles which have obviously been in the process of collecting or delivering, to the benefit of businesses and their customers.
'As for tickets that actually have been issued, most private car drivers are the 'registered keeper' of the vehicle and a PCN will reach them fairly quickly. However, commercial vehicle operators have a high proportion of leased vehicles and a PCN, having been through a bureaucratic trail process from the leasing company to the leaser to the driver, can take far longer to reach the appropriate person.
'This can result in a substantial cost where, for example, a PCN for a higher rate offence has been issued and the operator has been forced to pay the full rate. In London this can be as much as £120 and where a time delay in receipt has meant they have missed the opportunity to pay at 50 per cent for early settlement, very substantial sums of money are involved. Many companies serving London operate large numbers of vehicles and are presently spending tens of thousands of pounds each year on fines which they would either wish to dispute or settle earlier and cheaper. From next March they will benefit on both counts.'