It is inevitable, you will at some point have to park in a paid car park but do you know about the different types of car parks? Or the different methods that you can pay for your parking?
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Council Car Parks
If as often as not, there are no parking spaces in permitted areas, parking in a car park may be your only option. Most areas will have a council car park which should be cheaper than some of the large private car parking companies. Council car parks will have certain restrictions, such as maximum length of stay, no overnight stay and size of vehicle (height restrictions). You will usually have to buy a ticket to display in your car, or collect a ticket on arrival and pay when you leave.
Make sure you display your ticket clearly, park correctly and don’t overstay your time limit to avoid a fine.
Other Car Parks
Unfortunately, when you are in larger towns and cities, there is often no choice but to park in one of the large expensive car park, such as the ones owned by National Car Park (NCP). These usually operate on a ticket on arrival system which you then pay at a pay station for the amount of your stay before you leave. Make sure you keep your ticket safe as a lost ticket could end up costing you the price of a whole days parking.
Where You Can Park
Firstly there are areas with no lines or no signs and these, often hard to find areas, are safe to park at any time. Just make sure you don’t park across a driveway or entrance or block anyone else’s access.
There are then areas such as parking bays, often marked with a dashed white line on the road and usually accompanied by a sign to inform you of time limits. These areas can be free of charge, for short periods, such as 20 minutes or 1 hour and in these cases there will usually be a restriction on returning to the space within an hour or two.
These areas may also require you to buy and display a ticket. If so there will be a machine close by and the sign will state any restrictions. Make sure you park within the bays and display the ticket clearly.
Paying for your Parking
Different car parks have different methods for paying for your parking. You should make sure you pay correctly and always display your ticket correctly if needed.
Pay and Display
Pay and Display car parks are usually quite cheap but they can be a hassle. You have to pay for the amount of time you think you will be which can be restricting. Failure to return before the time set on your ticket can result in huge fines. Therefore, always put on more time than you think you will need and remember how long you have to park there. The good thing about Pay and Display car parks is that they are often free in the evening or on Sundays. Check on the board the times where paying for parking applies as you do not want to pay for parking when you do not need to.
Always make sure your ticket is clearly displayed in your vehicle. Sometimes when you close the car door, the effect can blow over the ticket or make it fall off the dashboard. Therefore, once you have displayed your ticket and closed your car double check it can be seen. You can get a parking fine if parking attendants cannot see your ticket.
Pay Station Car Parks
Pay station car parks are usually more expensive than pay and display car parks. How they work is you collect your ticket upon arrival at the car park and then pay at a pay station when you want to leave. However, they mean you are not restricted to a certain time and you can return any time. Remember though, the longer you take the more expensive your parking will be. You also need to check the closing time of the car park. Although some car parks are open 24/7 some are not and you do not want to get stuck with your car locked inside a car park.
Pay by mobile phone
Some car parks now allow you to pay for your car parking using your mobile phone. If you are at a car park that allows you to do this it will usually say “pay-by-mobile service available” on the ticket machine, along with some directions as to how you need to go about paying for your car park. To use the service you will need a mobile phone, a valid credit or debit card and your number plate registration. You will need to call the number provided on the ticket machine and follow the directions over the phone. You will probably be asked for the number of the car park, this number should be clearly displayed on the ticket machine at the car park.
When you use your mobile phone to pay for parking you will not receive a paper ticket. Parking attendants will use hand held devices to check that your car parking has been paid for to prevent you getting a ticket. You should also receive a text to let you know your car parking credit is about to expire and give you the option to top up your parking if you need to park for longer, you do not need to return to your car to do this.
Pay-by-mobile services are becoming more common at popular car parks and are a convenient way to pay for your parking as you don’t have to worry about having the right change and you can top up your car parking on the go. The only issue with paying by phone is that sometimes you will be charged an additional fee for the privilege of using your phone. However, this charge is usually only about 30p.
Parking a motorbike in a car park
If you ride a motorbike instead of driving then you’re lucky, you do not need to purchase a parking ticket in any pay and display car parks.
The reason for this is kind of obvious, people can and most probably would just walk up and take the ticket from your bike. However you do still need to pay for parking in barrier operated car parks because these do not require you to leave a ticket on your bike. Instead you take the ticket with you and pay before you leave.