Car parking rules have been in the news lately, but what are the rules around parent and child parking spaces?
Who can legally use a parent & child parking bay?
Use of a parking bay in a privately owned car park is a matter of contract law, created by the signs in the car park.
The terms on which certain bays can be used depend on the signage around the car park and how well they are placed.
Restricting the use of certain bays to parents with young children is OK as long as the signs are clear and set out that a charge will apply for misuse. Such bays are designed with extra room around the car and the spaces are there to offer those with small children the extra room they need to load both their offspring and shopping into the car. Heavily pregnant women need the space in just the same way.
So if bays are restricted and effectively reserved for parents with children, anyone else parking there risks a penalty charge notice for parking without permission and is in breach of contract. Car park owners are free to set out the terms on which bays can be used.
Who enforces the parking fines?
Car park fines are enforced by whichever company is employed by the car park owner and there are many of them – and their full details should appear on the penalty charge notice. They enforce against the registered keeper and will obtain details from the DVLA. If the registered keeper was not driving, he or she has to say who was – or become liable.
They all operate in the same way and rely on signs to create a contract between themselves and the driver. The contract can stipulate how long you can park for free, and where you can and cannot park.
The law is not as straightforward as the car park companies will say it is.
Remember our post on private parking companies? This means that private car parks cannot enforce who parks in any space. http://www.pladstoke.co.uk/private-parking-companies-cannot-fine-you/
What about at supermarkets?
So, are supermarkets actively enforcing the correct use of these bays? Well, not really. The approach differs from company to company. Morrisons store manager David Bryant admitted there were no specific car park wardens employed, and that car parks were monitored intermittently by trolley attendants.
“There is nothing we can really do except place a little card on their windscreen politely asking them not to park there in future,” he said. “And this is provided that they have been seen entering the store without children in the first place.”
Tesco expressed similar, simply stating: “We work hard to accommodate all of our customers’ needs, and provide a significant number of disabled and family car parking spaces at our stores. We ask that our customers are considerate of the clearly marked bays, which are reserved for blue badge holders and families, and our colleagues will always act to help those that cannot find the space they need.”
So basically, the issue of parking in parent and child spaces is a moral, not a legal issue.