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MSE News: British Parking Association agrees to face its critics

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  • peter_the_piper
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    Mind you, its possible that putting a young lady (office junior? sorry if maligning her.)up to answer the questions might not have been the best move. Someone in a more elevated position, who has a ready answer would have been better.
    I'd rather be an Optimist and be proved wrong than a Pessimist and be proved right.
  • usignuolo
    usignuolo Posts: 1,923 Forumite
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    There is another issue here - I took my car into the garage for a repair and left it there. The garage owner parked it in the car park of an empty office building nearby, where he had an arrangement with the caretaker to do so.

    Unknown to him, the building had been sold and a BPA firm hired to manage the car parking (go figure - on an empty office block). Anyway the next thing that happens is that I get a demand for a parking fine, not from the parking management firm, but from a debt collection agency they sold the debt onto.

    The garage owner had ignored the original penalty notice posted on the windscreen. I rang up the debt collection agency to say I was liable as I was not the driver, at the time. I was told, by the debt collection firm, that this was wrong and as the owner I was legally liable for the fine because the garage owner was driving the car with my permission.

    I did not pay it but sent it on to the garage owner who continued to ignore it. I continued to get letters threatening court proceedings from the debt collection agency which I continued to forward to the garage owner.

    The point really is that it is not just BPA members who are busy demanding fines they are not entitled to levy, it is also the debt collection agencies they are selling on their outstanding fines to.
  • Crabman
    Crabman Posts: 9,943 Forumite
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    There's no debt, the 'collection agency' is the next person along in the office, using a different headed paper. They only need to write you one letter before action, before filing in court. The fact they're bombarding you with letters saying they 'may' take you to court but not actually doing so should tell you that they have no intention of going to court but instead intimidating into paying up.
  • usignuolo
    usignuolo Posts: 1,923 Forumite
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    No it was a third party debt recovery firm who had "bought" the unpaid parking fines associated with the empty property from the building management company who presumably wanted shot of them when the building and site was sold and they no longer managed it.
  • Crabman
    Crabman Posts: 9,943 Forumite
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    usignuolo wrote: »
    No it was a third party debt recovery firm who had "bought" the unpaid parking fines associated with the empty property from the building management company who presumably wanted shot of them when the building and site was sold and they no longer managed it.
    Do you have the name of the third party debt recovery firm?

    I may have some 'unpaid parking fines' to sell to them :D
  • Methusela
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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Here is my latest question for BPA. In my opinion it is the most important so far, as it goes to the heart of the operational relationship between BPA and DVLA.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I refer to the DVLA website page; “Accredited Trade Associations”, where BPA is listed as their only ATA for parking operators. Here DVLA state:-[/FONT]

    “[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]All Accredited Trade Associations must have an enforceable code of practice governing the conduct and operations of their members.......We require that ATAs: [/FONT]
    • Maintain records of all complaints and their resolutions;
    • Monitor members to ensure compliance with the code of practice;
    • Undertake to expel or suspend any member that fails to comply with the code of practice and notify us within 24 hours of the expulsion or suspension;
    • Investigate at our request any complaints about an alleged breach of the code of practice or misuse of DVLA information and report the outcome back to us.
    [FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Those ATAs that fail to enforce their code of practice could lose their DVLA accreditation which, in turn, would mean their members forfeiting the entitlement to request and receive DVLA information electronically”.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif](This latter point has already been mentioned by Coblcris in his posting # 24 but I make no apologies for raising it again in a slightly different context).[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]In view of the above statements by DVLA, I would like to ask BPA three things:-[/FONT]
    1. [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Why do BPA claim to have no powers of enforcement, when their position as an ATA explicitly requires them to have an “enforceable code of practice”?[/FONT]
    2. [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Since BPA have admitted in writing that they do not meet this DVLA requirement, (i.e. they can not and do not enforce their code) why have they not lost their accreditation, as the DVLA terms say they should?[/FONT]
    3. [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]On how many occasions have BPA been asked to investigate “at DVLA's request, complaints about an alleged breach of the code of practice or misuse of DVLA information”, as suggested above?[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]In my view, there seems to be a cosy relationship – much too cosy – between BPA and DVLA. It seems to me that, on the one hand, BPA need this relationship with DVLA in order to imbue their operation with some kind of “authority”.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]On the other hand, DVLA also need this relationship with BPA, in order to make it appear they have some control over the parking firms to whom they are dishing out vehicle owners' personal information at every request - legitimate or otherwise.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Any comment?[/FONT]
  • BFG_2
    BFG_2 Posts: 2,022 Forumite
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    Methusela wrote: »
    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]On the other hand, DVLA also need this relationship with BPA, in order to make it appear they have some control over the parking firms to whom they are dishing out vehicle owners' personal information at every request - legitimate or otherwise.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Any comment?[/FONT]

    I disagree, DVLA need this relationship with BPA,...............................for the money!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Methusela
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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]To see what happens with “cosy” relationships you only have to look at the MPs' expenses scandal. This highlighted how dangerous it can be when one group of people (the Fees Office) are monitoring the activities of another group of people (the MPs) and the relationship between the two groups is such that neither group wants to upset the other. A cosy relationship developed where the Fees Office approved just about any claims that were passed to them by any MP. The result was definitely not in the public interest.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Why do I worry about the DVLA / BPA relationship? To answer this, I'll start by discussing DVLA's side of it. Their website says DVLA handle 800,000 enquiries a year from parking firms. At £2.50 each, this produces an income of £2,000,000 per year. DVLA say this income is “revenue neutral”, with “administrative costs” taking up the whole £2,000,000. The administrative costs will mostly cover employment of extra staff. Assuming they are each paid around £17,000 per year the DVLA must be employing around an extra 120 staff to cover enquiries from parking firms.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Well over a hundred extra people employed in Swansea, just to dish out personal information about you, me and eight hundred thousand other motorists to parking companies, so that they in turn can send out parking charge notices to all of us – BIG business.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]This leads me on to the dangerous aspect of the DVLA – BPA relationship, which is that DVLA has approved only one Accredited Trade Association – which is BPA. This is a monopoly and it is a very dangerous situation for any government agency to get itself into, since it means that DVLA and BPA cannot afford to upset each other. By approving only one ATA, DVLA have made themselves totally dependant on the effectiveness of BPA in policing their parking firm members.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Why is this?[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Well, DVLA have to be able to demonstrate to the Information Commissioner that they only issue personal data to “safe” parking firms who have “signed the pledge” to work within BPA's code and they have to demonstrate their ability to investigate and take action against any firm who misuses this data. For this, DVLA rely totally on BPA and its code. Without BPA “on board” they could not keep the Information Commissioner happy, so DVLA could not carry on selling personal data and this income would stop completely.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]This in turn would put more than a hundred DVLA staff under immediate threat of redundancy.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]So this is why DVLA cannot afford to upset BPA or to withdraw their accreditation, even though they know that BPA completely fails in policing, investigating and punishing its members.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]From BPA's side of the “cosy” relationship, their organisation is totally dependant on DVLA for maintaining their lucrative income in membership fees. If DVLA withdrew BPA's accreditation, individual parking firms would get no benefit from being BPA members and so BPA's income would completely disappear overnight.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Neither party can afford to upset the other because, if the partnership failed, both DVLA staff and BPA would be involved in considerable losses.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]So, to summarise the result of BPA's monopoly position so far:-[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]BPA should by now have lost their DVLA accreditation, because they demonstrably fail to meet the terms of that accreditation.[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]But DVLA's hands are tied. If they kick out BPA, their one and only ATA, they will lose all income from BPA members.[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]If DVLA lost this income stream, they would have to put well over a hundred people in Swansea out of a job. As well as its serious effect on the local economy this would also cost DVLA a fortune in redundancy payments.[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]So it is in DVLA's vested interest to turn a blind eye to BPA's failure to comply with the terms of their accreditation.[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Surprise, surprise! From next February DVLA will ensure that no data is issued to any parking firm that is not a member of BPA. This is bound to boost BPA's income well above its already substantial level.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]If all of that doesn't sound like a “cosy relationship” then personally speaking I don't know what would. Perhaps Martin should ask the Prime Minister to set up an investigation. Sir Thomas Legg should be free to take on this job very soon now, having finished with MP's expenses.[/FONT]
  • Coupon-mad
    Coupon-mad Posts: 135,121 Forumite
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    I found this press release on the DVLA website:

    http://www.dft.gov.uk/dvla/pressoffice/pressreleases/14042009.aspx

    Their CEO is quoted as claiming that 'compliance with the Code of Practice is strictly monitored by the ATA, and this, in addition to stringent checks the DVLA currently performs, would further enhance the protection of information held on DVLA’s vehicle record.'

    Well the press release also has an email addy at the bottom. Would anyone else like to email [EMAIL="press.dvla@gtnet.gov.uk"]press.dvla@gtnet.gov.uk[/EMAIL] as I just have? :D Why not just ask your questions about the BPA and its Code of Practice and/or its accreditation as an ATA - staying civil and factual of course.

    Could be useful if the DVLA were to read what the BPA are saying here (and the allegations and questions they are not answering) on this forum - and indeed what they said to Martin Lewis in the original article. E.g. where the BPA said, I think, that it doesn't deal with complaints about its members, even though as I understand it, the BPA's own COP as an ATA states that it does...correct me if I am wrong...:confused:
    PRIVATE 'PCN'? DON'T PAY BUT DON'T IGNORE IT (except N.Ireland).
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  • Coblcris
    Coblcris Posts: 1,862 Forumite
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    No correction needed.
This discussion has been closed.
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