Revealed: the cities with the most unfair parking tickets

A Freedom of Information request shows the cities where parking tickets are most likely to be overturned. We also explain how to challenge an unfair ticket.

Unfair parking tickets

Up to two-thirds of parking tickets are overturned when challenged. That’s according to a recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

FOIs were sent to major city councils to identify how many parking penalty charge notices (PCNs) were issued in a year. The councils were also asked how many were appealed and how many of these challenges were successful.

Based on the FOI data, it would appear that parking wardens in Newcastle are a little trigger happy with their ticket machines. Of the 81,000 PCNs issued, nearly a quarter were appealed by disgruntled motorists. Of these challenges, 66 percent were successful, meaning that one in six (16 percent) of all PCNs were overturned.

The results were similar in Liverpool, Cardiff, Bristol and Leeds. Meanwhile, in London, a massive 3.7 million parking tickets were issued in a year, but very few were appealed. Indeed, just one percent of PCNs were appealed – with 0.3 percent of all tickets overturned.

What is a penalty charge notice (PCN)?

A PCN can be issued for a parking violation, breaking some traffic rules or not paying the charge for the London congestion zone, low emission zone or Dart Charge on time. You usually have 28 days to pay, and the fine is often reduced if you pay within a fortnight. 

If you fail to pay a PCN within 28 days, you’ll be issued with a ‘charge certificate’. You’ll have 14 days to pay the original fine plus an additional 50 percent.

How to challenge a PCN

Parking ticket

You can challenge a PCN if you feel it has been issued unfairly. A challenge must be issued within 28 days. If you do it within 14 days and the challenge is rejected you may only have to pay 50 percent of the fine.

There are different rules for challenging, depending on the PCN in question.

If you received a parking ticket on the spot, for example on your windscreen, you should make an informal challenge with the council. The appeal process starts by using the relevant postcode on the government’s website.

If you received a PCN through the post, you must make a formal challenge (representation) with the council. A formal challenge should also be used if your informal challenge is rejected. Use the same link to start the appeal process.

In the case of a formal challenge, you must:

  • Explain your reasons for challenging the PCN, using as much detail as possible.
  • Provide copies of any evidence to support your challenge. Evidence could include a valid pay and display ticket, photos of signs that are unclear, witness statements, photos of the road markings, or a repair note if your car had broken down.

If the formal challenge is rejected, you’ll be given 28 days to pay. Alternatively, you can take the appeal to an independent tribunal.

How and when you should appeal parking fines

Last month, we published a full and detailed guide to when and how you should appeal a parking fine. It showed that 56 percent of motorists who appeal a fine are successful, so a challenge could be worthwhile.

The penalty charge notice league table

City PCNs issued PCNs appealed Total PCNs overturned Successful appeals
Newcastle 80,972 24 percent 16 percent 66 percent
Liverpool 89,190 23 percent 14 percent 63 percent
Cardiff 66,621 20 percent 11 percent 54 percent
Bristol 100,740 16 percent 9 percent 54 percent
Leeds 97,275 30 percent 15 percent 51 percent
London 3,665,727 1 percent 0.3 percent 49 percent
Sheffield 47,168 28 percent 8 percent 30 percent
Glasgow 147,945 12 percent 4 percent 30 percent
Edinburgh 208,523 0.11 percent 0.03 percent 25 percent
Birmingham 136,820 15.7 percent 3.6 percent 23 percent
Manchester 598,060 0.13 percent 0.03 percent 23 percent
Leicester 78,562 13 percent 2 percent 19 percent
Norwich 26,530 25 percent 2 percent 9 percent

The FOI was submitted by AMT. You can see the full results of the research here.

Related Articles

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Writer with a penchant for #FrenchTat. Also doing a passable impression of Cousin Eddie in an Italian-German beige motorhome.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Rolls-Royce Ghost (2020) review

Whether as a driver or passenger, the Rolls-Royce Ghost offers a luxury experience that’s almost unmatched. We enjoy an indulgent day out.

2020 motoring events: the car shows cancelled by coronavirus

Whether you enjoy a good chinwag at a breakfast meeting or watching historic racing cars on a circuit, here are some of the best motoring events of 2020.

Government warned over 2021 ‘automated driving’ plans

Thatcham Research and the ABI have warned lives could be put at risk by government plans to introduce automated driving on UK motorways in spring 2021

Motorists oppose Highway Code safety proposals

Almost two-thirds of drivers surveyed disagreed with idea of giving cyclists and pedestrians priority over cars.