Continuing on from last weeks blog is our second part on parking.
Important note before you begin:
Parking rules across the country are confusing. On official sites like Gov.uk or Transport for London, the relevant info can be hard to find. We’ve worked through as much original source material as we can, but rules vary around the country, so it’s important you always double-check your local rules before acting if you’re not sure, and see this only as a starting point.
You can sometimes park on a single red or yellow line, but many assume there are standardised times – that’s a mistake. Restrictions for parking on single lines will usually be shown on accompanying road signs – make sure you scope the area and check before you park. Generally speaking, you’ll be barred during peak daytime hours but are usually OK at some point during evenings and weekends.
When it comes to double yellows you simply can’t park, though you can sometimes stop to load or unload. There are also some exceptions for Blue Badge (disabled) holders. With double reds, you can’t even stop, unless you are a Blue Badge holder and there are designated parking bays for you.
Parking in paid bays and council car parks
Paid-for bays include pay-and-display, council-run car parks, voucher parking and metered bays. During controlled hours (usually during working hours on Mondays-Fridays, plus weekends in busy areas), you’ll need to pay.
Outside these times, you’ll be free to park. So check the signs on the roadside or at a ticket machine/meter to be sure. Also make sure your vehicle is completely within any bay.
But there’s more you need to know:
Watch your wheels
Make sure your motor is completely within any defined spot, such as a residents’ or pay-and-display bay. If just one wheel is outside, you could get a ticket.
Especially in London, unless signs specifically indicate it, don’t park on the pavement and keep your car as close to the kerb as possible. If you park more than 50 centimetres from the kerb (unless within a bay), you could get a ticket. This also means double parking is prohibited unless you’re loading or unloading for no more than 20 minutes.
Nipping off for change isn’t fine
Make sure you have enough coins with you as many parking ticket machines do not accept notes or cards.
Sadly, if you get a parking ticket you cannot technically appeal on the grounds you were getting change.
Beware the ‘no return’ sign rules
With all paid-for parking, watch out for maximum time limits or no return limits in some bays to ensure you don’t spend too long there.
If you can park somewhere for an hour but it says ‘no return’ within two hours, it means you must leave at least two hours between parking spells.
Sometimes you can pay by phone
In some built-up areas, you can pay for your parking by phone. It works by setting up an account by phone or text and then letting the council know when you’re parking and how long you want to stay there for. Your chosen credit or debit card will then be charged.
The advantage of this method is you can top up your payment if you want to stay longer without returning to your motor. The disadvantage is, in some cases, you’ll have to pay a fee for each payment.
Many of these schemes also require you to call 0870 or 0871 numbers, which cost more than a normal phone call so factor that in.
What if the meter or machine’s broken?
If the meter or pay and display machine is broken or has a cover placed over it, it usually means you cannot park there during controlled hours.
For pay-and-display though, if you can find a nearby machine that works and operates under the same time restrictions and cost, you can get a ticket from there.
However, to be safe, check the rules written on the machine as it will state if it’s legal to park there if out of action.
Proudly display your permit or ticket
If you have a special permit (such as a residents’ or disabled permit), a warden must be able to see and clearly read it, otherwise you’ll probably get a ticket. The same goes for any voucher or pay-and-display ticket you’ve bought. While this sounds obvious, permits can fall off after a few months’ wear so make sure they are securely fastened. Plus, if you simply load one parking ticket on top of the next on the dashboard so there’s a whole pile, making the current one difficult to distinguish, that can get you a fine.
Also, if you have a residents’ or other permit, note the renewal date. If you miss it, and you park outside your home, it’s likely you’ll get a ticket.
Different councils have different bank holiday rules
Many people wrongly assume you can park where you want on a bank holiday. Some councils will allow you to park in a residents’ bay or on a yellow line, but others won’t. Sadly, there’s no hard and fast rule so if you’re unsure, check the council website for the area you wish to park in or the message on the parking meter or ticket machine. If unsure, don’t do it. You’ll need to check the relevant council’s rules via its website. See Gov.uk to find local authority pages.
Beware EVERYTHING in private car parks
Most of this guide is about parking on public roads, but the rules change on private land or in private-run car parks – in supermarkets, hospitals, housing estates or elsewhere. Here, you can sometimes enter the land of the cowboys, where you can be asked to pay huge amounts without reason, or for just minor ‘offences’. Always check signage – it may be hidden – and be ultra-cautious.
If you get an unfair ticket, as is common, DON’T automatically pay it. The firm has no right to fine you. All they’re actually doing is invoicing you – though it’ll be dressed up like a fine.
Residents’ parking bay rules
These are designed, as the name would suggest, to ensure local residents have a spot to park near their home.
However, they are free to use outside restricted hours (usually during evenings and/or at weekends).
Residents’ bay parking suspensions
It’s not all plain sailing for residents. They also need to beware the curse of the dreaded suspended bay. A council can shut off any parking spot for an indefinite period to allow roadworks, tree-cutting, domestic moves, etc (see suspended bay example pic, right).
While the bay is suspended, no-one can park there or you risk a ticket or being towed away. The suspension warning sign should be placed on the nearest parking sign plate, tree or telegraph pole.
You’ll normally get a few days’ notice but in emergencies, a bay could be suspended with less than 24 hours’ notice.
What if the bay gets suspended while you’re on holiday?
The regulations state it is your responsibility to check for any suspensions and to move your car if necessary otherwise you’ll get a ticket, or worse.
If you’ve gone on holiday and you miss the notices going up, it can be a real pain. The warden will understandably issue a ticket, and proof of travel will not necessarily get you off the ticket.
If you don’t have a permit
You can only park in a bay outside restricted hours, which will be signposted (see example pic, above right). Make sure your car is completely within any bay to avoid a ticket.
If you have a permit
You can park in a bay at any time unless the bay is suspended (see below). Also watch out for metered or pay-and-display parking mixed amongst residents’ bays as you may not be able to park for free in them. Read the notices on the overhead signs, meters or pay machines.
Keep your permit visible
Even if you have a permit, it is also your responsibility to display it clearly. So make sure it’s upright and the holder is sticky enough to keep it up. Even if you have legitimately bought a permit but fail to clearly display it, you may lose an appeal against a ticket if you get one.
Councils can play hard-ball on ticket appeals
You’ll have to rely on the council’s discretion when appealing as, technically speaking, you have committed an offence (see Parking Ticket Appeals for how to do this).
If your appeal is rejected by your council, the independent arbitrator can only recommend the council cancels your ticket – it cannot force it.
Some councils are particularly unsympathetic to this problem and insist it is motorists’ responsibility to check their car is parked correctly. They say you need to make specific arrangements to get someone to check the car if you plan to leave it parked in a residents’ bay. If you’re away with the family, ensure a neighbour is insured before asking them to move the vehicle.
Some councils have specific car parks reserved for those going on holiday, or if you’re flying, you could drive to the airport and leave your car nearby (see the Cheap Airport Parking guide).
We hope this guide has been useful but please message us if your still unsure of any parking restrictions in your local area, we can always check it out for you and provide more advice.