Sir Greg Knight is MP for East Yorkshire.
Tomorrow, MPs will have the opportunity to tackle an issue that features heavily in all of our email inboxes and postbags. My Private Member’s Bill, the Parking (Code of Practice) Bill, will hopefully be given a Second Reading on the floor of the House of Commons.
My intention is to give Government powers to create a new mandatory code of practice across the parking sector, and thus to end inconsistent practices and unfair treatment of British motorists by a few rogue private parking operators.
My own constituents in East Yorkshire, and motorists right across the country, are fed up and calling for change. They are joined by some parking operators who subscribe to existing codes of practice and who want to see their high standards upheld across the whole sector.
Most parking operators have nothing to fear from my Bill, but we must stop unscrupulous operators undermining the whole sector with bad practice. Poor signage, unreasonable terms, exorbitant fines, aggressive demands for payment, and an opaque appeals process have no place in 21st-century Britain.
The Bill 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. This will ensure that the terms under which private parking is provided, including the rights and obligations of each party, are fair, clear and unambiguous.
My Bill does nothing to diminish the rights of landowners to earn a fair income from their land, including seeking redress when motorists don’t play by the rules. But the scales need to be rebalanced so the system is fair for all involved. My Bill, if approved by Parliament, will help stamp out rogues in the industry.
Dubious methods, confined to a small number of operators, have done much to undermine consumer confidence in private parking operators. We cannot allow bad practice like this to continue. Making these changes will reassure drivers that private car park operators will, in future, treat them in a fair and proportionate manner.
My Bill will also benefit the parking sector. The majority of car park providers are honest and fair, and are keen to prevent unscrupulous competitors undermining the sector in the eyes of motorists. A mandatory code of practice will create a level playing field, requiring all providers to operate fairly and with transparency. It will also help to build trust between motorists and providers, who between them support the 82,000 people who work in the parking sector.
A large number of stakeholders have stepped up to show their support for the Bill. I have been working with motoring groups such as RAC and the British Parking Association to help improve motorists’ experiences.
I need the support of my fellow MPs tomorrow if I am to succeed. Over 19 million journeys every day end at a parking space. This is an issue which cuts across all voters regardless of geographic region, class or age. If you have a car, you will be affected by this.
MPs who support this Bill on Friday will be supporting the British motorist, because Parliament now has the chance to make parking fairer for both consumers and businesses. This is an opportunity that should be grasped.