Drivers win grace period in private car parks

Drivers who pinch a spot in a private car park will now be given a ten minute grace period. Picture: Greg Macvean

Drivers who pinch a spot in a private car park will now be given a ten minute grace period. Picture: Greg Macvean

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DRIVERS using many privately run car parks will be given a minimum ten-minute grace period before being penalised, the British Parking Association (BPA) has announced.

It is expected the policy, which was introduced yesterday, will cover the majority of privately-operated car parks in Scotland, which are operated by BPA members.

We want to make it easier for motorists to park

Patrick Troy

Some of the major players, such as NCP and Smart Parking, already offer a grace period of at least ten minutes.

Edinburgh Airport has a grace period of at least 15 minutes, depending on the length of stay, while Glasgow Airport’s is at least ten minutes.

However, some council-run car parks, such as in Glasgow, do not have any grace period because they are not required to have one, unlike those operated by local authorities in England. The new BPA policy covers the end of any free parking period, or paid-for parking time.

Chief executive Patrick Troy said: “We want to make it easier for motorists to park in whichever car park they use when they go about their daily business.

“By making private car parks as similar to local authority ones as possible, life becomes much simpler for the motorist.” The BPA has also banned operators from offering financial incentives to attendants for the number of tickets they issue.

Neil Greig, the Scotland-based policy and research director of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “Any flexibility on the part of car park operators will be welcomed by hard-pressed Scottish drivers.

“If this complete package of policy changes is applied fairly across Scotland, it will help to rebalance the negative image that has built up around some car park operators.”

He added: “If you have a choice, always check the car park you use is operated by a member of the British Parking Association, and then you will have access to their customer appeals service if any problems do occur.

“However, the issue of expensive penalty charges has still to be fully resolved before the parking industry can have a full clean bill of health.”

Fraser Sutherland, a consumer spokesman for Citizens Advice Scotland, which campaigns against private car parks’ unfair treatment of drivers, said: “We always welcome any change that will provide relief to consumers.”

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