New measures designed to stop drivers being unfairly treated by private parking firms have been launched by the UK Government.

Among them is a new Code of Practice, which the government says will see parking fines cut by up to 50% in the majority of cases.

The proposals, currently being considered by Parliament, include a maximum cap for parking fines, a 10-minute grace period before a late fine can be issued, and a requirement for parking firms to clearly display pricing and terms and conditions.

In England (outside London) and Wales, charges will be reduced from £100 to £70 or £50, depending on the seriousness of the breach, and parking firms that breach the rules could be barred from collecting fines at all.

A new appeals process is also being created, designed to make it easier for disputed fines to be cancelled.

Announcing the measures, Minister for Levelling Up Neil O’Brien MP said: “Private firms issue roughly 22,000 parking tickets every day, often adopting a system of misleading and confusing signage, ?aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees designed to extort money from motorists.

“The new Code of Practice will set out a clear vision with the interests of safe motorists at its heart, while cracking down on the worst offenders who put other people in danger and hinder our emergency services from carrying out their duties.”

The new appeals process will allow drivers to appeal fines for reasons such as: mitigating reasons for overstaying their ticket such as their car breaking down; a genuinely innocent error such as mistyping their registration number; having a valid ticket that is not displayed correctly.

The code states parking charge levels will mirror the local authority’s system for public car parks, in many cases £50, although £100 fines will be allowed to remain for some offences, such as abusing Blue Badge bays.

In addition, drivers will be offered a 50% discount if they pay within 14 days, parking debt collectors will be banned from adding additional excess fees to the level of the parking charge, and there will be a compulsory five-minute cooling-off period in which drivers can consider terms and conditions and change their mind about parking.

There will also be a crackdown on parking firms using aggressive or pseudo-legal language to intimidate motorists into paying fines.

Reacting to the announcement, RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “The RAC has campaigned for years to end the sharp practices in the private parking sector, so we welcome the new national code that will usher in higher standards and will introduce a lower cap on penalty charge notices, an independent appeals system and an end to rip-off debt collection fees. 

“This will undoubtedly make drivers’ experience of using private car parks fairer while at the same time force rogue operators to clean up their acts once and for all.”

AA president Edmund King said: “These much-needed upgrades to private parking rules will give better protection to drivers. For too long, those caught by private parking firms simply pay the charge to get rid of it. Thankfully these days are numbered. 

“Drivers should feel confident that having a single Code of Practice and a new Appeals Charter will give them confidence to appeal and be properly heard. We are also pleased that honest mistakes, like mistyping the car registration into the machine, will now be automatically cancelled.”