Drivers have been hit by a 29 per cent annual increase in the number of parking tickets issued by private companies, new figures show.
Motorists were slapped with a record 11.1million tickets in the year to the end of March, equating to an average of more than 30,400 every day and up from 8.6million during the previous year.
Each ticket can be up to £100, meaning the total annual cost to drivers could exceed £1.1billion at the current rate, according to an analysis of Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data by the PA news agency and the RAC Foundation.
The DVLA figures show the number of records obtained from the agency by companies chasing car owners for alleged infringements in private car parks, such as at shopping centres, leisure facilities and motorway service areas.
They do not include car parks run by councils.
Some private parking businesses have been accused of using misleading and confusing signs, aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees.
A long-awaited code of practice aimed at eradicating some of the sector’s worst behaviour was due to be introduced after legislation was passed in Parliament in March 2019.
The code was originally laid before Parliament in February 2022 but was withdrawn by the Government five months later, following a legal challenge by parking companies.
A new call to evidence on the issue closes on 8 October.
RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding, said: ‘In the four-and-a-half years since legislation was passed to create a single code of practice and address the worst excesses of private parking companies, as many as 36million private parking charges may have been issued.
‘The ballooning rate at which the volume of vehicle keeper requests continues to grow is a clear sign that something is seriously awry, creating distress for drivers and hassle for legitimate parking managers alike.
‘While some drivers will choose to flout the rules and risk being penalised, the vast majority are simply trying to do the right thing.
‘As the private parking minister recognised recently, most motorists do not choose to break the rules deliberately.
‘Amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis it is implausible that millions of drivers would knowingly want to risk running up a charge for as much as £100.’
He added: ‘Of course, government needs to get the new private parking framework right after the false start it made last year, but surely that’s a task to be measured in weeks and months, not four-and-a-half years and counting.’
The code of practice, which was initially due to come into force across Britain by the end of 2023, stated that the cap on tickets for some parking offences should be halved to £50.
Its withdrawal pending a review of charges will likely lead to a delay in implementation.
The introduction of the code was led by levelling up minister Dehenna Davison until she resigned earlier this month citing an ongoing battle with chronic migraine. She was replaced by Jacob Young.