Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Motorists urged to “seek advice” before paying private parking fines

Motorists who fall foul of parking officials are being urged to “seek advice” before paying fines from private parking companies.

SDLP MLA Justin McNulty says people must exercise caution before handing over money to firms such as Smart Parking and the Civil Enforcement Agency.

A “sudden upsurge” in the number of drivers receiving fines in the post has prompted the Newry and Armagh MLA to make the call.

He said: “Parking charges issued on private land are technically not ‘fines’.  They should not be confused with those issued by the Department of Infrastructure and NSL for parking in a Roads Service car park or along the street.  Private parking companies have no official right to fine people. However, they can issue a ticket a called a ‘Parking Charge Notice (PCN)’, which is technically an invoice for what they deem to be a breach of their parking contract.”

Typically PCNs are issued at car parks located at retail parks and while in England and Wales, the registered owner of the vehicle is liable for any private parking charges the vehicle may incur, the is different here as it is the driver of the car, not the registered keeper, who is liable. 

“The PCN will be sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle, however it is the responsibility of the private parking company to prove that the registered keeper of the vehicle was driving the vehicle.  When challenged by way of appeal, the companies cannot do this and tend to cancel the parking ticket / invoice,” Mr McNulty said.

Although such tickets are a common occurrence in Newry, he says there has been “a sudden surge” in Armagh of people seeking help to deal with the issue.

Advising motorists to get in touch with their local SDLP office, he added: “These tickets can and should be challenged.  I would appeal to people to seek advice as soon as you get one of these tickets.  Do not contact the company who have issued the ticket and then we can hopefully assist you in your appeal.  Get in touch with our offices at Cathedral Road, Armagh or at Trevor Hill, Newry and we will be only too willing to try to help.”