In today’s blog, Stewart Clure, Managing Director at Debt Recovery Plus, celebrates the 52nd anniversary of the British Parking Association and considers the changes the industry has faced over time, as well as what has remained the same.
Over to Stewart…
The British Parking Association (BPA) is a trade association that has represented members from the parking and traffic management industry in the UK since the 1970s. As the leading provider of debt recovery services for the private parking sector, Debt Recovery Plus (DRP) has built a strong relationship with the BPA over the years and we are delighted to (belatedly due to COVID-19) celebrate a decade of the association this month, alongside the prestigious People In Parking Awards and AOS Conference.
Over the years we have seen developments such as coins and cash payments going out of fashion in favour of contactless card and phone payments, as well as automated number plate recognition making arrival and departures more efficient. Time and technology constantly evolve and improve, but sadly, some of the public’s ability/desire to park correctly (and legally) does not always follow suit! Despite the addition of car sensors and even self-parking modes on some modern vehicles, there remains an appetite amongst some members of society to leave vehicles in unlawful, unexpected, dangerous or downright odd places.
It remains incredibly important therefore that adherence to rules is encouraged whenever possible and when contentious examples of deliberately bad parking take place, these can be resolved fairly and proportionately. Private car parks are usually managed by a private parking company and can be at all types of different locations, from public transport stations, shopping centres, healthcare facilities, universities and private residential areas. A company can issue a Parking Charge Notice (PCN) when a vehicle does not comply with clearly stated rules and regulations, which should be set out clearly on signs at the entrance and around the site. These rules are why the BPA is so important, as they specify conduct through the Code of Practice for Parking on Private Land, which operators must always adhere to.
Since 2014, the BPA has also managed the Safer Parking Scheme, which aims to raise the overall standards of car park safety, security, design and operation. The Park Mark Safer Parking Award, provided to establishments that prove they adhere to the highest standards of requirements, has become a sought-after industry accolade and an important benchmark for success.
Progression and change
Parking, like any other industry, moves forward with the times and the BPA has responded to these scenarios and challenges at every turn. When wheel clamping on private land, for example, was banned as of October 2012. The BPA welcomed the change to tackle the issue of rogue clampers but to ensure that private enforcement remained with a robust solution, campaigned for a form of keeper liability, allowing private operators to pursue the registered keeper of a vehicle if a named driver could not be traced or denies liability.
The establishment of POPLA (Parking On Private Land Appeals) by the BPA has also fostered positive change and provided motorists with independent and free appeals for the past ten years. POPLA is available to all motorists who park on private land. This is a testament to the high standards that are often promoted by parking professionals, who are providing fair and proportionate parking services.
The current challenge
In 2019, new legislation was passed when the Parking Code of Practice Act became law. The association was taken back (as we were) by the proposals suggested and have supported our attempts to unify a movement on improving the refined code. The BPA lobbied for change and the new code was under review for some time. This is an evolving situation, with the Government announcing fresh implementation this month, as the new single code of practice is laid before Parliament. Collaborative thinking, discussions and responses to these developments in partnership with the BPA are now more important than ever and we will be working closely to share our expertise and knowledge to help collectively strive for the future good of the industry.
Cause for celebration
Finally, a word on the People in Parking and the Ernest Davies Award, an annual ceremony run by the BPA, that brings together the leading businesses in the industry to celebrate amazing achievements. From team leaders and outstanding contributors to community engagement and committed long-term service, these awards celebrate those that regularly go above and beyond in order to succeed.
We are always delighted to be involved in events that promote best practice and this year, our very own Contact Centre Manager, Rebecca Green, has been recognised in the first-ever Inspirational Woman in Parking category. Rebecca previously won an Outstanding Employee in Parking award at the inaugural IPC awards and as well as being incredibly proud of her for being shortlisted, everyone at DRP and our sister companies Bristow & Sutor and Credit Style, will be cheering her on and hoping she comes away victorious on awards day. Good luck Rebecca!