Driven mad by parkingConfusion over Britain's parking system

03 November 2005

Which? is calling on the government to sort out Britain's parking problems after our research found many motorists feel bamboozled by the current system.

We uncovered widespread confusion, fuelled by poor parking signs. More than one in four motorists in a survey told us they didn't know where they were allowed to park, while many had no idea about the circumstances in which they could appeal against parking tickets or clamping.

We found that some parking signs are poorly positioned, missing, confusing or wrong. This was echoed by further survey results: 72 per cent of Which? readers who'd received a fine thought it was unfair, with 39 per cent of these blaming confusing signs.

Part of the problem is that local authorities are required to put signs only on entrance roads to controlled parking zones, rather than on all roads with restrictions. This means that once drivers are inside certain zones, they can easily miss signs.

Rabbit gets ticket

Another problem is that councils keep revenue from parking fines and can set targets for the number of tickets issued, pressurising contractors and attendants to meet targets rather than keeping traffic flowing. Complaints about over-zealous attendants were rife.

In one case we encountered, a pet-shop owner in Eccles, Greater Manchester, was unloading his van on a single yellow line when he noticed an attendant writing a ticket. He drove away before the ticket was issued - so the attendant slapped it on a rabbit hutch in his shop.

We want to see ticket targets abolished and we've passed our views to the Department for Transport .

'While most people agree that we need parking restrictions on our crowded roads, the system must be seen to be fair,' said Which? Editor Malcolm Coles.

'Drivers don't like the fact that parking fines aren't being applied fairly, and often they don't know how to appeal.'

To appeal a ticket, you must first complain to the council. Then, if you live in London, you can appeal through the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service. The rest of Britain is covered by the National Parking Adjudication Service and the Scottish Parking Appeals Service . In Northern Ireland, parking is still enforced by the police.

For more information about appealing a parking ticket, take a look at our guide.