Councils are bringing back parking charges after they were waived to help those making essential journeys during lockdown - and traffic wardens will be back out enforcing the rules.

Many local authorities suspended charges after restrictions on movement were imposed by the government to stop the spread of coronavirus.

It was also intended to help NHS and social care workers - and in some areas across the country, they'll still be able to park for free.

But with the easing of lockdown and more people returning to towns, cities and beauty spots, parking charges remain a vital source of income for councils.

It also means the return of parking tickets - Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) - and some motorists will feel they've been given one unfairly.

Confused.com says its research found two in five (40%) drivers have appealed a PCN at some point and of those, 74% were successful and either paid a reduced price or nothing at all.

It says these are the steps you should follow if you find a parking ticket on your windscreen and think it shouldn't be there:

Before you appeal

It's natural to think that the council must have made a mistake, but before spending time and energy on an appeal, consider

What to do next

The first step is to send what's known as an informal appeal.

Make sure you this off within 14 days so that if you lose, you can still pay a reduced fine. 

Here’s what you need to include in your challenge letter:

Send the documents by recorded delivery - and you should also ask for receipt of your appeal to be acknowledged and include and the outcome you'd like.

A traffic warden on patrol
A traffic warden on patrol

Reasons to appeal

Reasons motorists give can include incorrect or unclear signs, that their vehicle had permission to be there, or that someone else was driving it without your consent.

Drivers also cite mitigating circumstances which mean they accept breaking the rules, but argue that there was a good reason.

These include being in an emergency situation, being too unwell to move their car or the ticket falling off the windscreen. Be aware that councils might consider these reasons, but it doesn't mean your fine will be waived altogether.

What evidence do you need to send?

You'll need everything that can back up the reasons for your appeal - including a valid pay and display ticket, photos, of signs that are hard to understand, witness statements from someone who was with you, previous correspondence, doctors notes and receipts from recovery companies if you broke down.

What if you can't afford to pay?

It's unlikely that councils will automatically waive your fine, but they may consider reducing it.

What happens next?

If your appeal is successful, your PCN will be cancelled and you won’t have to pay.

If you were unsuccessful, the next step is to make a formal appeal within 28 days - but you can usually get a 50% discount if you pay soon after your first appeal was rejected.

Citizen's Advice says it's usually a good idea to pay at this point if the council has a strong reason for turning down your appeal. And if you don't pay within 28 days, your penalty will go up by another 50%.

If you make a formal appeal and it's rejected, you can challenge the council's decision at an independent tribunal.