Wheel clamping on private land (and towing away) is to be banned by the coalition government. We had a commitment to tackle rogue wheel clampers in the coalition agreement – and now we are able to take this forward.
It falls in my portfolio at the Home Office. Immobilisation has always had a track record of grief and misery. There cannot be an MP in the land who has not had constituents come to them who have been clamped ‘unfairly’. The complaints that have come in to the Home Office are tales of exorbitant fees, abusive behaviour, signage being invisible and so on.
In a recent adjournment debate I recall that examples were given of a disabled motorist being frog marched to a cash point in the middle of a freezing night to get cash to pay the release fee.
Of course, landowners have a right to stop people parking on their land – but no longer by clamping. In Scotland – where clamping was banned nearly twenty years ago (very successfully) landowners either protect their land by barrier methods or introduce ticketing.
Over time, everyone has tried to make this system work – but it just hasn’t. Individuals have had to be licensed – but that hasn’t stopped sharp practise. The latest thinking (before the ban) was to introduce an independent appeals authority – so that aggrieved motorist could appeal the fee etc. But that would cost £2million to set up and thereafter have to be funded by the public through the fees and just perpetuating a flawed system.
Cars that are parked dangerously on private land – for example – blocking the entrance to a hospital or such like will be towed by the police. However, the police powers are for exceptional circumstances only.
This does need legislation and so it will be brought in as part of the Freedom Bill in November hopefully – and then come into force as soon after the passage of the Bill as possible.