Motorists are being hit with unnecessary fines because councils are failing to explain their right to challenge parking tickets, a government watchdog report has found.
The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) for England report concluded that the claims of motorists seeking to challenge a fine were ‘all too often’ rejected without proper consideration or explanation.
It suggested that motorists may sometimes be paying more than they need to because they haven’t been given the correct advice about challenging their parking tickets or penalty charge notices.
If you’re planning to appeal, you should do so as soon as possible by following the council’s appeals process.
Read our guide for more information on how to appeal a council parking ticket or use our free letter template to challenge a council parking ticket.
The LGO noted that, in some instances, the only telephone number that appeared to be available for motorists was one for paying a fine, rather than discussing it.
There had also been instances of councils using premium-rate numbers, thereby incurring additional costs for the motorist.
The report said that while this was legal and may be quite common, it does not appear to be in good practice, as it may discourage people from contacting their council with valid enquiries.
Read our advice on how to avoid costly calls.
Collect evidence to support your challenge
Finally, the LGO also found that motorists were not informed that they had a further right of appeal to an independent adjudicator after their formal challenge was rejected.
Remember: if the council rejects your appeal, and you still think you have a strong case for not paying the parking charge, you can appeal to an independent body.
Make sure to take photographs of the scene – in particular, of road signs or road markings that are unclear, or of the ticket meter if it’s broken.
Get witness statements if possible or any evidence of mitigating circumstances. If your car was stolen and you reported it to the police, you will have a crime reference number that you should include in your appeal.
Be aware that if you do take the appeal to an independent body, you may lose the chance to pay a reduced charge.