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29 January 2018

Monday Musing: Big News!!! The Parking (Code of Practice) Bill has been published!!!

Exciting news in the world of parking hit last week. Yes, you read that right. Last week saw the long-awaited publication of Sir Greg Knight MP’s Private Members Bill, calling for a Code of Practice for all private car park operators to adhere to. Sir Greg first proposed this Bill back in the first half of 2017. As you know, we have called for some time for a single Code of Practice and common standards for private parking. So, since the first tabling of the Bill, the Public Affairs and Research Team has been working hard to stay abreast of and influence all of the developments. 

So, it was with a growing sense of anticipation and some relief, that we celebrated the publication of the Bill last week. I know what you are thinking: that we really do know how to have fun here at the BPA!! We even popped a bottle of Champagne, to celebrate when it was released – actually I think that was our new office opening party, but that’s another story! After calming down sufficiently to reading the draft we were all very relieved. The Bill’s contents as currently presented corresponds closely to what our lobbying and communication activity had indicated it would be. We were particularly heartened by Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Sajid Javid, announcing Government’s support for the Bill.

There are a number of things to clarify right off the bat about what the Bill proposes and what happens next:

  • There will be no immediate change to how the AOS operates or to the current legal practices of the private car park sector.  
  • Sir Greg’s Bill is an Enabling Bill, which means that it empowers a Secretary of State to do something. It will not specify a code or outline operator behaviour, it will merely grant the Secretary of State (or his chosen minister) to begin to draft a Code of Practice for the operation of car parks on private land.
  • Once the Bill passes its 2nd Reading, (this will require 100 votes in the Commons), it will move to Committee Stage, where a committee of MPs will scrutinise the Bill line by line. A draft Code developed by the Advisory Board (MHCLG) will be shared at that stage, as a broad illustration of what a finalised code may look like. The real Code will not be developed until after the Bill has been made into law.  
  • Once the Bill has passed through the House of Commons and the Lords the government will work with stakeholders, including industry representatives, to create and publish a draft Code. It will then consult with operators and other stakeholders on that draft. Only after consultation would any Code be implemented. So, there will be plenty of time for operators to provide feedback.

 We have welcomed the Bill because it offers the prospect of a single set of standards, which will help to eradicate confusion created by multiple Codes of Practice and appeals systems, and ultimately be fairer for consumers.

Assuming the Bill is successful at its 2nd reading we shall continue our engagement with Government and key stakeholders to press for a positive outcome in relation to the emerging Standards Body, its Code of Practice, auditing arrangements and appeals service. It is important to reiterate that this Bill is NOT the Code of Practice – it simply enables a Code of Practice to be created.

So exciting times. For now, if you have any questions about The Parking (Code of Practice) Bill and you are a BPA Member, please contact the Public Affairs and Research Team or the AOS team on Phone 01444 447300 or e-mail aos@britishparking.co.uk or consultations@britishparking.co.uk. We would welcome any feedback or suggestions.

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