GOVERNMENT ministers will not change rules allowing drivers’ private details to be sold to parking enforcement firms.
That is despite the efforts of a Hampshire MP who asked them to scrap policy allowing the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to sell the data.
Julian Lewis spoke out after the success of two Hampshire women in a court battle against a parking fine.
As revealed in the Daily Echo, Christine Lemon and Sue Harris were handed a £100 fine at The Range in Shirley after parking for 53 minutes longer than the two hours’ free parking permitted.
They refused to pay the fine, saying there were no signs about the time limit, and so the enforcement firm which sent them a letter demanding payment, ParkingEye, took them to court.
But in the court case the firm’s lawyer was unable to produce any contract proving the company was allowed to fine motorists at that time. The company has repeatedly insisted it had a valid contract, but has refused to produce proof when challenged by the Daily Echo.
Christine and Sue said they were also unhappy with the DVLA for selling their details on to ParkingEye so it could fine them, despite the firm not being able to produce proof.
The DVLA says it is investigating the incident, as is accreditation body the British Parking Association.
Christine’s MP, New Forest East representative Mr Lewis, took up their case and asked the Government to stop the practice of selling the information.
But his Conservative colleague, Southampton-born Under-Secretary of State for Transport Stephen Hammond, has written back saying there are “no plans” to change the policy.
He added that “the DVLA has a number of safeguards in place to ensure that the data is released only where it is fair and lawful to do so”.
Mr Lewis say he now intends to take up the practice of selling data with the Information Commissioner.
He said: “I think it will be interesting to ask the Information Commissioner if he is satisfied with the DVLA’s conduct here. This doesn’t inspire the greatest confidence in the safeguards the DVLA may have.”
Christine, 65, from Totton, said she was “disappointed but not surprised” by the Government’s response.
She added: “The questions have brought out the usual standard DVLA replies, which are completely unhelpful to, nor reveal any empathy with, Southampton residents.
“This illustrates what a challenge it is to get anyone who can do something about this wrongdoing to listen properly.”
Rupert Lipton, managing director of the National Motorists Action Group, said: “Yes, the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 formalised this activity, but the fact is that the DVLA are unable to demonstrate that proper checks and balances are in place to ensure that companies like ParkingEye are behaving lawfully in the first place.
“That is something that motorists should be getting really angry about.”