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Drivers lost £58.5 million last year by not appealing unfair parking tickets

Press release: 11/03/2011

New findings from car insurer LV= reveal that drivers lost £58.5m [2] last year by failing to appeal against parking tickets issued in 'unfair' circumstances. In 2010, one in twenty (5%) motorists in the UK received a parking ticket where they had grounds to appeal. Despite this, only one in five (22%) drivers bother to contest a ticket once issued; but of those who do, nearly nine in ten (88%) claimants are successful.

When questioned, over half of UK drivers (53%) who do pay when issued with a ticket in unfair circumstances do so because they assume they will not win an appeal. Many drivers say they are confused about the procedure for appeals, with one in twelve (8%) not knowing how to initiate a claim.

The majority of 'unfair' parking fines are issued in areas where parking signage is unclear. Other reasons include misleading road markings being issued with a fine while walking to a machine to buy a parking ticket and being fined when the car was broken down. A small but significant number of drivers report parking attendants actually fabricating evidence to support issuing the ticket (2%).

The majority (49%) of tickets issued unfairly are given out on public roads but surprisingly one in ten (10%) are received in car parks of public buildings managed by local authorities, such as libraries, hospitals and GP surgeries. A similar number (9%) are given out in commercially operated car parks.

The cost of a parking fine varies widely across the UK but the research found that the average cost paid by motorists given a ticket in unfair circumstances is £42 [3]. The majority of this money is pocketed by local authorities, who issue nearly three quarters (74%) of tickets in unfair circumstances. London councils make the most money per parking penalty issued, with Camden, the neighbourhood of celebrities such as Amy Winehouse and Kate Moss generating an average of £78 [4] per ticket. Outside of the capital, Poole Council pockets nearly £30 per ticket, while Tendring Council in Essex makes just £16 per ticket and South Gloucestershire takes the least money at just £10 per ticket issued.

Local authorities are not the only organisations profiting from issuing parking tickets in unfair circumstances, as private parking firms are cashing in too. The research reveals that 182,000 tickets issued unfairly last year came from unregulated private parking operators. One in ten (11%) drivers issued with such a ticket say they were provided with no information on how to appeal at all making it difficult for drivers to contest the fine.

A little known fact is that these organisations have no legal entitlement [5] to fine drivers with parking penalties. Despite this, cowboy parking attendants often use heavy handed tactics to intimidate drivers into doing so, with one in ten (10%) motorists who have been issued an unfair ticket on privately owned land reporting that they have been threatened with court proceedings or debt recovery action if they did not pay up. Actually, all they can do is send a notice that they intend to take the motorist to court for trespassing or breaking a contract by parking on their land. This is not a criminal matter and the parking firm would need to win a case in court proving that the motorist knowingly trespassed or breached a contract with them before they would be legally entitled to a penny.

John O'Roarke, managing director of LV= car insurance, said: "It’s shocking to see motorists paying out millions every year in unfair parking tickets, particularly at a time when soaring fuel costs are already putting a huge strain on drivers. It is vital that the appeals process is communicated clearly in all tickets, penalty notices and subsequent documentation to ensure drivers are aware of their right to contest a fine they feel is unjustified. Although the appeals process may sometimes seem time consuming, motorists should be encouraged by the fact that the vast majority of appeals are successful, and we’d urge them to take action against any unwarranted fines."

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All research unless otherwise specified was conducted by ICM. ICM interviewed a random sample of 2,003 adults in Great Britain aged 18+ from its online panel between 25 and 27 February 2011. 1,728 of those surveyed were drivers. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at

LV= is a registered trademark of Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society Limited (LVFS) and a trading style of the Liverpool Victoria group of companies.

LV= employs around 4,500 people, serves over four million customers and members, and manages around £8.0bn (as at 31 December 2010) on their behalf, via LV= Asset Management (LVAM). We are also the UK’s largest friendly society and a leading mutual financial services provider.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.

[1] Definition of a parking ticket being issued unfairly determined by one of the following reasons:
- The parking sign was misleading
- The road markings were misleading
- The parking attendant fabricated evidence to support issuing the ticket
- The driver was less than five minutes late in returning to my vehicle
- The driver’s vehicle was parked for less than five minutes
- The driver’s vehicle was only parked slightly over the allowed road markings
- The driver was issued with a ticket whilst going to pay at the ticket machine
- The driver’s vehicle had broken down/they were unable to move their vehicle

[2] According to the ICM research, the average price paid for an unfair parking ticket was £45.17 in 2010. In 2010, 3.7% of drivers received a parking ticket with grounds to appeal, yet paid the fine. The Department for Transport’s National Travel Survey (2009), estimates that there are 34,000,000 full driving licence holders in the UK; therefore 3.7% of 34,000,000 = 1.3 million drivers. 1.3 million x 45 = £58.5 million.

[3] Amongst drivers who have been issued with an unfair parking ticket (from both private operators and council wardens), the average cost paid is £42.90.

[4] Supplementary data supplied by Barrie Segal, with figures from The Department for Transport and Parking Adjudicator.

[5] Citizens Advice Bureau guide to parking fines.