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Council Parking Fines – Guide, Laws & Appeals

Getting a council parking fine can be frustrating and expensive. But do you really have to pay and can you appeal? 

I discuss the things you need to know about council parking fines here.
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Did you get a council parking fine and are wondering what you can do about it? You’re not alone! Thousands of people visit our website every month looking for answers to their debt issues.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) is.
  • Why you may have received a PCN.
  • How much you can expect to pay.
  • How you can pay your PCN.
  • What happens if you appeal your PCN.

We understand how stressful dealing with debt can be, as many of us have been in your shoes – worrying about house visits and trying to figure out how to get debt-free. We’re here to help you figure things out and understand how to deal with your PCN in the best possible way.

Let’s dive in!

Most Appeals Succeed

In some circumstances, you might have a legitimate reason not to pay your fine.

It’s a bit sneaky, but the last time I needed legal advice, I paid £5 for a trial to chat with an online solicitor called JustAnswer.

Not only did I save £50 on solicitor feeds, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.

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*Around 35,000 people dispute their tickets each year with the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, and a striking 64% of those appeals are successful, so it’s well worth a try. 

Do You Have to Pay?

In some circumstances, you might have a legitimate reason not to pay a fine.

It’s a bit sneaky, but the last time I needed legal advice, I paid £5 for a trial to chat with an online solicitor called JustAnswer.

Not only did I save £50 on solicitor fees, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.

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What is a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN)?

A Penalty Charge Notice is a type of fine predominantly issued by local councils across the UK. These fines can be issued for a small number of different reasons, including for alleged parking contraventions on public land. 

A parking Penalty Charge Notice might be left on your vehicle for when you return. This is done by a council worker called a Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO).  

Or the Penalty Charge could be sent to the registered vehicle owner in the post. The council can ask the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) for the home address of the registered keeper and send it to them.

The Penalty Charge Notice is more likely to be sent in the post when the alleged parking contravention was caught on a council CCTV camera or when the motorist was acting aggressively and the CEO couldn’t hand them the PCN.  

If your parking fine isn’t from a council… 

If your parking fine isn’t from a local council, there’s a good chance it’s from a private parking company and is actually called a Parking Charge Notice – not a Penalty Charge Notice. 

If you have a private parking fine, we’ve provided lots of free help and support in dealing with these private companies elsewhere. Head to our private parking fines page to uncover what you need to know.

Or if you have a Fixed Penalty Notice instead, you’ll find more info on these by jumping back to our police and council fines page. 

Why have I received a PCN?

The registered vehicle keeper will receive the council parking fine if the fine isn’t left on the vehicle. This is because the vehicle keeper is obligated to pay, even if they weren’t the one who committed the parking offence. 

There are lots of reasons why you could receive a PCN, including:

  1. Parking on double yellow lines
  2. Parking on single yellow lines when not allowed
  3. Other forms of illegal parking and ignoring parking restrictions
  4. Not paying to park in local council parking areas
  5. Overstaying in local council parking areas

How long does a local authority have to issue a PCN?

Penalty Charge Notices are ideally sent within 14 days but they must be sent within 28 days. 

There can be exceptions for when the 28-day rule doesn’t apply, such as the DVLA not responding to a request for the vehicle keeper’s address in good time. 

More on Parking Fines From the Council

If you’re looking for information about a parking Penalty Charge Notice for a particular municipality, why not check out the content I’ve written about location-specific council parking fines?

How much is a PCN (UK)?

The cost of a Penalty Charge Notice in the UK can differ by location and the perceived seriousness of the parking contravention. They usually range between £50 and £90 outside of London and can be as expensive as £160 on red routes in London

A 50% discount is applied to all council parking fines that are paid within the first 14 days. 

London red route PCNs are sent by Transport for London (TfL) rather than a local authority. 

Do you get points for a Penalty Charge Notice?

No, you won’t receive any points on your driving licence if you receive a Penalty Charge Notice for a parking contravention. 

The penalty for these minor road offences is financial only. 

How to pay a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN)

Directions on how to pay your Penalty Charge Notice will be explained on the Penalty Charge itself. 

Most councils allow the recipient to pay their parking ticket either:

  1. Over the phone using a 24/7 automated payment line
  2. By sending a cheque in the post
  3. By paying with cash at select locations, such as council libraries 
  4. Or online via the council’s website

It’s common for people to go to the relevant council website and pay online. The council is likely to have a dedicated online portal where the individual can view evidence held against them and make the payment.

To locate their council parking fine and pay, the individual will need to enter their vehicle registration number and their PCN number first.

What is a PCN number?

A PCN number is a unique identifier of your Penalty Charge Notice. It’s like a reference number for each council parking fine. 

How do I find my PCN number?

The PCN number is located on the Penalty Charge Notice. It might be located in different positions on the notice deepening on which local authority issued the fine. However, it’s usually written at the top of the notice on the left-hand side. 

If you’ve lost your PCN and therefore your PCN reference number, you will need to contact the council and ask for further instructions. Some local councils have a dedicated email address to solve this problem. 

Are PCNs legally enforceable?

Yes, a Penalty Charge Notice is legally enforceable. If you don’t pay, the council can take further steps to make you pay, including registering the fine as a debt in court and getting a judge to order you to pay. 

What happens when you don’t pay a council parking ticket (UK)?

When you receive a local council parking fine, you have 28 days to pay. If the fine goes unpaid after these 28 days, the council will send a legal document called a Notice to Owner to the registered vehicle keeper.

The Notice to Owner informs the vehicle owner about the council parking fine (in case they were not aware because someone else was driving). It tells the owner that they’re obligated to pay this fine as the vehicle keeper and gives them 28 days to do so. 

If the fine isn’t paid within 28 days after the Notice to Owner, the council will send a Charge Certificate to the owner. The Charge Certificate is a notification that the payment deadline has been missed, and consequently, the fine has been increased by 50%.

A new deadline is made to pay the increased fine, usually 14 days later. If this deadline is also missed, the council can register the council parking fine as a debt in court. You’ll have to pay court costs. The court can then order you to pay, and even provide a warrant for the council to enforce the debt with bailiffs. 

Can you appeal a PCN?

You can make an informal and formal appeal against a parking Penalty Charge Notice. Even if your informal appeal is rejected or you don’t make one, you can still make a formal appeal. The formal appeal is also called a representation. 

Informal appeals can usually be made within the first 14 or 28 days before the Notice to Owner is sent. If you lodge an informal appeal within the first 14 days, the council will usually hold the 50% fine reduction until a decision has been made. 

So if the appeal is rejected, you might still have the opportunity to pay a reduced fine!

After 28 days and the Notice to Owner is sent, a representation can be made. The representation should include one or multiple reasons why you think the council parking fine should be rescinded, and it often requires evidence to support your excuses. 

Successful Appeal Case Study

Situation

Initial Fine £100
Additional Fees £171
Total Fine £271

The Appeal Process

Scott used JustAnswer, online legal service to enhance his appeal. The trial of this cost him just £5.

Total Fine £271
Cost of legal advice £5

JustAnswer helped Scott craft the best appeal possible and he was able to win his case.

Scott’s fine was cancelled and he only paid £5 for the legal help.

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In partnership with Just Answer.

How to make council parking fines appeals

A PCN appeal is usually submitted through the local council’s website using the same online portal which is used to view the evidence against you and pay the fine. 

You might be able to upload your own appeals letter here, or you might have to fill in an online appeals form. 

There is also an option to submit your formal appeal by sending a letter if you prefer not to use the online service. 

What is the best excuse to appeal a parking ticket?

The best excuse to appeal a parking ticket is an honest excuse which can be verified with evidence. There are many reasons why you might want to contest a council parking fine, such as:

  1. Signage was damaged, removed, unclear or obstructed from view
  2. You overstayed by fewer than ten minutes
  3. You were involved in an emergency (medical) situation
  4. You paid and an error was made
  5. You were parked legally and an error was made

How do I write a letter of appeal for a Penalty Charge Notice?

A Penalty Charge Notice letter of appeal should first identify you and your fine by providing personal details and the PCN number. 

It should then politely make your arguments against the parking fine. You won’t be expected to reference specific parking legislation, but you can do this if you wish.

The letter should include appropriate evidence to support your argument against the council parking fine. For example, it might include a witness statement, photographic evidence or even a police crime reference number

Getting the support of a Solicitor can take a huge weight off your mind.

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How long does a local authority have to respond to a PCN appeal?

The local authority has 56 days to respond to your formal PCN appeal. If they don’t respond in this time, you win your council parking fine appeal by default. 

If you decide to send a letter instead of using the online appeal service, it’s important to keep a copy and a record of your appeal. This way you can prove that the deadline to respond has passed – if it does. 

What happens if you appeal a PCN and lose?

If you submit a formal PCN appeal and lose, you can either:

  1. Accept the decision and pay the fine within a further 28 days.
  2. Escalate the appeal to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.

Escalating your appeal is worthwhile if you think you shouldn’t have lost the appeal. It is a free service to use, and the Traffic Penalty Tribunal can force the council to cancel your local council parking ticket if they agree with you. 

The council is obligated to tell you how to use this service at the time they send a notice of rejection regarding the initial appeal. 

What do I do if you lose your council parking ticket UK?

If you lose your council parking ticket and need to pay or appeal, it’s important to get in touch with the local council that issued it quickly. 

If you delay, you could miss an opportunity to pay a reduced fine and miss the deadline to appeal.

Hire a Parking Solicitor for less than a coffee.

If you’re thinking about appealing your parking ticket then getting some professional advice is a good idea.

Getting the support of a Solicitor can make your appeal much more likely to win.

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