I totally agree. It can be difficult for the general public to understand these machines; they are set up to be confusing and then people get trapped. We are passing a Bill that will oblige the Government to introduce a new statutory code of practice to spell out what behaviours can be reasonably expected from private car parking operators.
As the right hon. Member for East Yorkshire, who is in charge of this Bill, highlighted on Second Reading, there are almost 19 million journeys a day that end at a parking space. This is truly a Bill that will affect almost every person in this country in some way; it is an issue that hugely affects my constituents in Warrington South, as it affects the constituents of many other Members here. I have been contacted by a number of people who have told me of issues they have faced with parking companies. In most of these cases, my constituents are being penalised for breaking an obscure term of the car park, or they are being falsely accused of not purchasing a parking ticket.
One constituent told me that she had purchased a ticket but made a genuine mistake and failed to enter her vehicle registration number correctly. As a result, my constituent was sent a number of letters threatening court action if she did not pay a substantial fine. Despite the innocence of her mistake, the letters scared my constituent into offering up the money.
Such threatening and exploitative behaviour is totally unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue, and this is far from a one-off incident. I have been contacted by several constituents who made similar mistakes, often entering a single digit or character of their vehicle registration incorrectly, and have then been faced with fines and threatening letters.That is wholly unacceptable, especially as these mistakes are often made because of parking companies’ deliberately misleading signage and complicated machines.