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Frequently Asked Questions about how we manage on street parking

General questions about Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE)

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What does Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) mean?

The Traffic Management Act 2004 part 6 permits Highways Authorities to apply to the Secretary of State to become a Civil Enforcement Area (CEA). Once the CEA application is approved, the power to enforce parking, loading and waiting restrictions, passes from the police to the Highway Authority.

Parking offences are no longer classified as a criminal offence as non-endorsable parking offences will be transferred to civil law.

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Why was CPE introduced?

Because of other pressures Sussex Police were unable to provide the number of traffic wardens it would like to enforce on-street parking regulations. Changes in the law now allow local authorities to take over this role by employing civil enforcement officers, and CPE is due to be introduced over the next few years across the remaining districts of West Sussex.

The change means clearer, safer streets and reduce congestion. It also improves the environment and helps the economy by making sure that on-street parking designed for short stay shopping trips is not abused. Civil enforcement officers are also able to target abuse of bays designed for people with disabilities, indiscriminate parking near schools, and other areas of public concern.  CPE also ensures that roads are clear of obstruction for emergency vehicles.

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Who is policing this - the Borough Council or a private company?

Worthing Borough Council has awarded the contract to enforce parking regulations to NSL Services Group.

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 Will the Officers be paid by Results?

No. Civil enforcement officers receive a basic wage, and there are no quotas or targets for issuing Penalty Charges Notices (PCNs). They are trained to be fair but firm with a focus on service quality.

Their job is simply to get drivers to obey parking control measures and issue a PCN where a contravention has taken place.

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Will Vehicles be Towed Away?

West Sussex County Council and Worthing Borough Council do not believe there is a recognised need at present to invoke the statutory powers they have to routinely remove vehicles contravening the parking restrictions.

However, in extreme cases, such as one where a vehicle is considered a serious traffic hazard and the owner cannot be traced, this may take place.

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What are the Penalties?

Attendants will issue a PCN (Penalty Charge Notice) at differential charging levels, depending on the seriousness of the contravention. The penalty charges are set at £70 for more serious offences ( such as parking on a loading restriction) and £50 for a less serious offence (such as overstaying on a pay & display ticket) - these carrying a 50% legal reduction to £35 and £25 respectively if paid within the first 14 days. If a PCN remains unpaid it will increase by 50% (£105 and £75 respectively) on the issue of a Charge Certificate and will then be registered as a debt at the Traffic Enforcement Centre of Northamptonshire County Court. Ultimately unpaid debts will be recovered by bailiffs, which will incur additional charges.

Civil enforcement officers will not be allowed to accept payment, and will be under strict instructions that once a PCN has been issued, it cannot be withdrawn. Any discretion necessary is applied in the appeals process.

 See Pay a Penalty Charge Notice for how to pay.

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What happens if I don't pay the Parking Ticket (PCN)?

Non-payment of Parking Tickets (PCNs) will be treated as a civil debt and could ultimately be recovered through a bailiff. You have the right of making a Representation to an independent adjudicator if you wish to challenge the PCN and have had your appeal rejected by the council at the first formal stage.  See Pay a Penalty Charge Notice for how to pay.

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How long have I got to pay the Parking Ticket (PCN)?

Payment must be made within 56 days of the date on which the Parking Ticket (PCN) was issued. If, however, payment is made within 14 days then a 50% discount will be applicable. See Pay a Penalty Charge Notice for how to pay.

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Is CPE Designed to Make Money?

No. The only reason for the change is to make sure that essential parking regulations are enforced.

The income from PCNs issued through CPE will meet the costs of administering the new system. Any surpluses will be a bonus but are 'ring-fenced' - which means they must be spent locally on transport or parking improvements. Previously all PCN income was returned to Central Government.

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I have received a letter stating I have an outstanding PCN but I did not get a PCN on my car.

If you have any issues regarding your PCN you need to appeal against this in writing.

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I have received a PCN but have been parking in the same place for ages. Why have I only just received this?

For the past few years, limited resources have meant that the Police can only give a low priority to enforcing yellow lines. Because the local authorities receive numerous complaints about illegal or inconsiderate parking, we consider it a far higher priority and can take action using the increased resources available through CPE.

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Does this enforcement include parking across dropped kerbs (drive-ways) etc?

We can only enforce the existing yellow lines as they appear on the ground. Obstruction of the highway will still come under the Police.

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I own a business. Will I be able to park across yellow lines for loading?

Not unless the waiting restriction allows you to load or unload.

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I have received a PCN but wasn't using my car. I lent it to my (friend, relative etc). Do I still have to pay?

The driver committing the infringement should make payment. However, should the PCN remain unpaid, then the Council will pursue payment from the registered keeper of the vehicle. See Pay a Penalty Charge Notice for how to pay.

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Bailiffs and Civil Parking Enforcement

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What exactly is a bailiff?

A bailiff is someone who works on behalf of the courts to remove goods to the value of a debt. The only way to stop the removal of goods is to pay the debt in full.

There are several types of bailiffs who act differently according to the type of debt being collected. A debt collector, who has no powers at all, is NOT a bailiff. A bailiff recovering goods for Civil Parking Enforcement contraventions has legal powers to enforce upon receipt of a warrant from the Issuing Authority.

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How can a bailiff be pursuing my debt for an outstanding Penalty Charge Notice?

At the final stage of enforcement for any outstanding Penalty Charge Notice (or PCN) debt – whether it be the full sum or partial debt – the Issuing Authority can apply for the debt to be registered at the Traffic Enforcement Centre (or TEC - see contact details below), which is part of Northamptonshire County Court. Once registered, the debtor is given one last chance to declare lack of knowledge, lack of appeal response or payment made before a warrant is issued. If the debt is still not paid and no declaration is made, it results in the Issuing Authority obtaining a warrant from TEC, which then gets sent to a chosen bailiff company for enforcement action.

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Does this mean I have a County Court Judgement against my name for an outstanding Penalty Charge Notice?

No. As Civil Parking Enforcement is a decriminalised scheme, the debt does not end up as a County Court Judgement, even when a warrant has been issued by the Traffic Enforcement Centre.

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Are the bailiffs certificated?

Yes. The Council does not allow any un-certificated bailiffs to work on their behalf.

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What do I do if I have a complaint about a particular bailiff or the company they represent?

If things go wrong, you can make a complaint about a bailiff. First of all, register your complaint and dissatisfaction with the bailiff's company. If this does not resolve the complaint, you can bring the complaint to the Council for further investigation. If the complaint is still not resolved you can take the matter to the court that issued the bailiffs' certification. If you choose to take your complaint to this level, we would recommend seeking professional advice.

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What if I cannot afford the bailiff fees?

In some circumstances, the bailiff company will agree to set you up with a payment plan. However, this will depend on the sum outstanding and proof of your financial position. The bailiff companies are not obliged to allow this and will rarely agree to a second payment plan if you have defaulted on one in the past.

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How will I know the bailiff is who he / she claim to be?

Bailiffs must always produce relevant identification when coming into contact with debtors – this will be in the form of ID badge, their bailiff certificate, and company documentation. The official title of a bailiff is an Enforcement Agent, so do not be surprised if you see either terminology on the identification.

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Can the bailiff break into my property?

A bailiff cannot use force to gain entry into a domestic property on their first visit: they can only use “peaceable means”. Entering through a door or window which was already ajar prior to the bailiff’s presence is acceptable. Forcing their way past someone at the door is not. Remember - you do not have to let a bailiff into your home!

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The bailiff is trying to take away my possessions. Can he / she do that?

After the bailiff has gained peaceful entry they will make a list of all the debtor's goods/belongings that are to be seized in the event that the debt still isn't paid. There are some general exceptions to what a Bailiff can take, such as clothing, bedding, furniture, household equipment or provisions as are necessary for satisfying the basic domestic needs of the debtor and his/her family, and tools, books, vehicles, and other items of employment as are necessary to the debtor for use personally in their employment, business and vocation. The bailiff is not normally able to seize items which belong to someone else, rented goods, goods subject to hire purchase or conditional sale agreements or fixtures and fittings. This list is known as a ‘walking possession agreement’.

You will often be asked to sign the walking possession agreement. A walking possession agreement means that the bailiff is now in control of the listed goods but is leaving them on the premises for you to look after and continue using.

When you sign the walking possession agreement the bailiff will usually charge an additional fee. Signing a walking possession agreement will give you time - usually 5 days - to make arrangements for repaying the debt before the bailiff returns with the intention of removing the goods to sell at public auction.

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My vehicle is missing. I have been receiving letters from a bailiff company. Could they have taken my vehicle away?

Yes, if you have not made contact with the bailiff company and they locate your vehicle (which may be on public highway or private property) they may clamp and remove it. If you suspect this may have happened, contact the local Police who will have been given details of your vehicle’s whereabouts by the bailiff.

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I have been visited by two bailiff companies for Penalty Charge Notices issued by one Council. How can this happen?

If you have multiple outstanding PCNs which have gone to warrants, the Council will always try to ensure that each of the warrants goes to the same bailiff company. However, if the details given by the DVLA to the Council vary (e.g. sometimes a first name is included and sometimes not), it is not always easy to group the warrants together. If you wish to set up a payment plan for all outstanding debts and need the warrants to be with the same company, contact the Council (see contact details below) who can rearrange the warrants accordingly.

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What laws govern the bailiffs' actions?

In 2002, the National Standards for Enforcement Agents was introduced which set a minimum standard which all bailiffs are expected to comply. From 6th April 2014 bailiff law will be consolidated under one main piece of legislation and various sets of regulations. No matter whether the debt is for parking or council tax, there will be uniformity across the board as to enforcement and fees.

New Legislation / Regulations:

  • Tribunals, Court and Enforcement Act 2007 (In particular Schedule 12)
  • The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013
  • The Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014

There will also be minor amendments made to:

  • The Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (Part 75 – Traffic Enforcement)
  • The Enforcement of Road Traffic Debts Order 1993 & Amendment Order 2001

The following piece of legislation will be revoked in its entirety:

  • The Enforcement of Road Traffic Debts (Certificated Bailiffs) Regulations 1993 – There will be a new process for certification

There will be a new process for certification under The Certification of Enforcement Agents Regulations 2014

As of 6th April 2014 Bailiffs will be called Enforcement Agents (EA).  There are 3 stages of enforcement, 'Compliance Stage', 'Enforcement Stage' and 'Sale Stage'.

Compliance Stage

  • The Enforcement Agent must issue a Notice of Enforcement – This will include how and when payment may be made, a contact number for the Enforcement Agent, and a date and time by which payment must be made.
  • 7 clear days must be allowed for payment.
  • The Enforcement Agent has 12 months to take control of goods.

Enforcement Stage

  • This is the actual attendance by the Enforcement Agent.
  • Only a person certificated in accordance with The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act provisions may take control of goods.
  • Only one fee per stage can be applied regardless of the number of visits required.
  • A Notice of Enforcement must be issued and the debtor must be given 7 clear working days (includes Saturdays) from the date of service to pay.

Sale

  • Places a duty to sell for the best prices.
  • Once goods are removed, a duty of care is placed on the Enforcement Agent.
  • 7 clear days must be given to the debtor before the sale of goods and a valuation must be given to the debtor for their goods.
  • The debtor must be provided with a notice prior to the sale.
  • Public auction to be used unless a Court orders an alternative method.
  • Sale must occur within 12 months of goods taken control, unless agreement is reached to extend.

Each of the bailiff companies have strict codes of conduct to follow and are also working in line to a Service Level Agreement with the council which sets out how to operate and what fees have been agreed.

Further useful information about bailiff's powers when they visit your home can be found on the gov.uk website's bailiff powers when they visit your home information.

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Do the Council monitor the actions taken by the bailiffs and the company they represent?

Absolutely. The Council monitors the performance and behaviour of all the bailiffs working on its behalf and would welcome feedback if you have concerns. Although complaints must first be made to the bailiff company direct, it is always useful to have a copy of the complaint for monitoring purposes.

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The first I knew of any action was when a bailiff turned up at my door. What should I do?

You are perfectly within your rights to make an Out-of-Time Witness Statement (formerly known as Statutory Declaration for all PCNs issued prior to 31st March 2008) to TEC. They will give the Council the right to respond to this application before making a decision but upon receipt, the council will cease any further enforcement action until the decision has been made.

Further information on this is available from Traffic Enforcement Centre (or TEC - see contact details below).

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I have had an Out-Of-Time Witness Statement accepted by the Traffic Enforcement Centre. Why are they not giving me back my money?

The information pages of the Traffic Enforcement Centre website (or TEC - see contact details below), clearly states, "this would not cancel any bailiff action that has already taken place", and the bailiff company is not obliged to honour any refunds in this situation.

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I have to go out and leave my teenager alone in the house. Can the bailiff enforce at this time?

No, bailiffs cannot take any action where it appears that no responsible adult or person over the age of 16 is present at the address.

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There are mitigating circumstances. Will the bailiff care?

Although bailiffs have a forceful reputation, they are only humans and doing a job ensuring fairness to all motorists. They are not mind readers. If you feel there are certain circumstances which have prevented / prevent you now taking the appropriate course of action, you must tell them. Bailiffs are trained to assess each situation individually. As examples, they will want to know about the following before making any judgement on the appropriate enforcement proceedings:

  • Communication or learning difficulties
  • Physical or mental difficulties
  • Pregnancy
  • Recent bereavement
  • Recent unemployment
  • Serious illness / long term sickness
  • Severe financial difficulties, including bankruptcy

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The bailiff is threatening to call the police. Can they do that?

Yes, once they have received a warrant, they may call for police assistance if they feel there may be a disturbance of the peace.

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What fees and charges can the bailiffs apply to my debt?

Fees are chargeable by and due to the enforcement agent and not the council.

The compliance fee is £75 – This is be payable as soon as the warrant has been passed to the bailiff company.

The enforcement fee is £235 in addition to 7.5% of the debt if the overall debt is over £1,500 – This is payable when the Enforcement Agent first attends the relevant premises.

The sale fee is £110 in addition to 7.5% of the debt if the overall debt is over £1,500 – This is payable when the first attendance has been made for the purpose of transporting goods to place of sale.

The fees are payable by the debtor, and once the fees have been triggered, the fee will be payable even if all possible activity under that stage has not been completed.

Can the Enforcement Agent charge anything else?

The Enforcement Agent can claim ‘Permissible Disbursements’ which are limited to:

  • Storage fees following removal.
  • Locksmith charges.
  • Court fees on application.
  • Auctioneer fees – see below.
  • Exceptional costs – following an application to the Court.

No other fees or costs are permitted, e.g. credit / debit card fees.

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Traffic Enforcement Centre contact details

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TASK Enforcement contact details

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Whyte & Co. contact details

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