HC Deb 04 December 2003 vol 415 c157W
John Mann

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport under what legislation private operators of(a) local authority car parks and (b) privately owned car parks may pursue (i) civil action and (ii) criminal action for unpaid fines levied on late and non-payers of car park charges; and when guidance on these matters was last issued by the Department. [141876]

Mr. Jamieson

On entering a local authority owned car park or a private car park a user is effectively agreeing to abide by the terms and conditions of its use, which should be displayed clearly. Paragraphs 14–16 of Local Authority Circular 1/90 dated 14 May 1990 covered information at car parks and drew attention to the need for local authorities to provide adequate information to users of their car parks, particularly about such matters as charges.

Section 32 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 empowers local authorities to provide off street car parks and section 35 enables them to impose conditions on their use, including charges. Failure to comply with such conditions is an offence under section 35 A of the Act.

A local authority may pursue non-payment of any charges incurred in connection with use of one of their car parks through a magistrates court. Alternatively, if they have obtained decriminalised parking enforcement powers, a penalty charge for non-compliance with the conditions of use may be issued by the authority under section 76 of the Road Traffic Act 1991. Under Schedule 6 to that Act an authority may take steps to enforce payment of a penalty charge through the Traffic Enforcement Centre at Northampton County Court.

Privately owned car parks are private property and charges and conditions for their use are a contractual matter between the owner and users. This is not a matter that is the subject of public legislation and it would be for the owner to pursue any unpaid charges as a civil rather than criminal matter.

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