New figures show that cowboy parking companies were able to collect huge fines despite a drop in traffic.

  •  Ruthless parking firms are on track to rake in near record amounts in fines this year despite a fall in traffic due to the pandemic.
  •  A crackdown on ‘cowboy’ operators has been promised but the number of companies issuing tickets has soared 
  • 1.95 million motorists got parking fines in the first three months of this  financial year

Even though traffic is down due to the pandemic, ruthless parking companies are poised to collect near-record fines.

And while a crackdown on ‘cowboy’ operators has been promised, the lack of any action yet is highlighted by the fact that the number of companies issuing tickets has soared.

According to new figures, 1.95million motorists were subjected to parking tickets in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2021/22. This is compared to 497.678 for the same period in 2020-21, when Covid restrictions were still at their peak.

If this year’s increase continues for the next three quarters, it will come close to the record high of 8.4million tickets issued in 2019/20, with 2.1million in the first quarter.

The figures mean that with fines capped at £100, private firms issued demands for up to £840million in 2019/20 and £195million in the first three months of this financial year.

Analysis by the RAC Foundation also found the number of parking firms has grown by two-thirds in the past five years (File image)

An analysis by the RAC Foundation found that parking firm numbers have increased by nearly two-thirds during the past five year (File photo).

The RAC Foundation’s analysis also showed that the number of parking companies has increased by almost two-thirds over the last five years.

Nearly 159 companies accessed car ownership records from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency so they could issue penalties – up from 97 in 2016.

It is despite the fact that traffic volumes plummeted earlier in the year due to the third lockdown.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said the DVLA’s figures ‘cast doubt’ on industry claims that firms’ margins are ‘hanging by a hair’s breadth’.

He added: ‘If that’s the case, how come more and more appear to be joining the industry already on track this year to issue a near record level of demands for parking charges?’

Under proposed new laws, there will be a Government-sanctioned code of practice for the industry, a single appeals service and a system of charges and penalties that would be more in line with those levied by councils, but the legislation is awaiting ministerial sign-off.

These stricter regulations are intended to curb the cruel practices of private companies that manage thousands of parking spaces at shopping centers, hospitals and railway stations.

Jack Cousens, of the AA, said: ‘What is incredible about these figures is that they coincide with a collapse in traffic during the pandemic. Traffic to cars is down by around 10% compared to pre-Covid levels.

The Daily Mail has repeatedly highlighted the bumper profits of many firms (File image)

Daily Mail highlighted numerous firms’ huge profits (File Image)

‘Sadly the activities of some private parking companies mean drivers are so sceptical and nervous when they receive a parking charge notice that many just pay it as soon as possible to avoid any hassle even if they did nothing wrong.’

He added the proposed new rules did not go far enough and should include measures to ‘identify cash-cow car parks’.

Daily Mail repeatedly highlights the huge profits many companies make.

In 2019 we revealed how pre-tax profits at the country’s biggest parking firm, ParkingEye, more than doubled from £6.58million in 2016 to £13.59million in 2019.

You can find it at major hospitals or other NHS locations.

Last week the firm’s boss Philip Boynes claimed the ‘average profit of a car parking operator was about 2.1 per cent’. Astonishingly, he joined calls for the £100 cap to be increased.