Dundee councillor calls for input in new parking code of conduct

A Dundee councillor locking horns with a private parking firm has called on lawmakers to involve local authorities in the creation of a new parking code of conduct.

The UK Government has given its support to a proposal from MP Greg Knight which would compel private operators to abide by a code of practice or face being forced out of business.

Councillor Will Dawson said that, while he broadly supported the idea, the government had to listen to local voices in order for it to be effective.

The East End councillor is embroiled in a legal battle with operator Smart Parking after the firm issued him with fines due to an error inside the RingGo mobile payments app.

He said: “From my reading of the documentation so far, I’m not sure if what is proposed actually goes far enough.”

Motoring organisations such as the RAC — who back the idea, along with the British Parking Association trade body — will be consulted on the new code, but Mr Dawson said the proposal should go further.

He added: “Should it get through parliament, I would ask the secretary of state to consult as widely as possible and especially with local authorities.

“Councils by their very nature are experts on parking, and as they supply so much of it to the travelling public, they would be best placed to advise on the issues within it.”

He also said the act was lacking controls on how much firms can fine and a legally mandated appeals process.

A number of private parking firms currently operate in Dundee.

These include Vehicle Control Services, who successfully forced local woman Carly Mackie to pay £25,000 in outstanding fines in a landmark case last year, and Indigo Parking, which won more than £4,000 in unpaid fines from NHS nurses in September.

UK Parking Control, which operates services at the Gallagher Retail Park, has also been criticised in the past for its business practices.

Communities Minister Rishi Sunak said: “We promised we’d put a stop to cowboy operators ripping off drivers and, with this new legislation, we’ll do just that.

“For too long dodgy firms have been pulling a fast one at motorists’ expense. We’ll halt aggressive letters, small signs and unfair fines.

“And if they don’t toe the line, we’ll put them out of business.”