Plans for a crackdown on “cowboy” parking firms will cap many fines at £50 and introduce a new code of conduct to better protect motorists, according to the government.

Ministers said that millions would benefit from an overhaul following years of complaints over unfair and extortionate charges.

The package of measures will see the majority of fines issued by private operators cut by up to 50% – down from a current maximum £100 – across Britain.

It includes a ten-minute grace period before a late fine can be issued, and a requirement for parking firms to clearly display pricing and terms and conditions in a bid to end firms hiding behind “non-specific, pseudo-legal and aggressive language when pursuing motorists”.

Innocent mistakes, such as mistyping a registration number into a ticket machine, will be excused.

A single parking appeals service would also be created to handle complaints.

The government said that those firms which breach the new code could even be barred from collecting fines.

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This would be done by blocking them from requesting Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data on the identity of a vehicle’s owner – but the statement added that this element would only kick in from the end of 2023.

Minister for Levelling Up, Neil O’Brien MP said: “Private firms issue roughly 22,000 parking tickets every day, often adopting a system of misleading and confusing signage, aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees designed to extort money from motorists.

“The new Code Of Practice will set out a clear vision with the interests of safe motorists at its heart, while cracking down on the worst offenders who put other people in danger and hinder our emergency services from carrying out their duties.”

The announcement was broadly welcomed by motoring organisations.

AA president Edmund King said: “For too long, those caught by private parking firms simply pay the charge to get rid of it. Thankfully these days are numbered.

“Drivers should feel confident that having a single Code of Practice and a new Appeals Charter will give them confidence to appeal and be properly heard.

“We are also pleased that honest mistakes, like mistyping the car registration into the machine, will now be automatically cancelled.”