Wheel clamping continued……..

Here is my column, published yesterday in the Ham & High, on the government’s decision to ban wheel clamping on private land.

Denver booted out!

When the Denver boot (wheel clamp) was introduced in this country – I remember wondering what the logic was of this new ‘solution’. A car is parked illegally or dangerously – so let’s make sure it stays in its illegal or dangerous position for much longer – by immobilising it!

Ever since then – this poor solution (albeit to a very real problem) – has caused untold misery. The horror stories abound: from the disabled man who was frog marched for twenty minutes to a cash point on a freezing November evening to a disabled man who had his wheelchair actually in the car that was clamped who had no money and so was left, stranded, by the clampers. However – it’s not just the extreme horror stories that matter – it is the every day horror story of a punishment completely out of kilter and disproportionate to the actual crime. Release fees of hundreds of pounds are made for what is, after all, a parking offence.

Parking regulations have to be fair and just if we want people comply and support them. Parking regulations should be used to improve traffic flow and improve safety – not act as revenue raisers. Wheel clamping – which was originally about putting off motorists from parking illegally on the highway has developed into a £1billion per year industry.

Successive governments have tried to deal with rogue clampers. Licensing of individuals working for vehicle immobilisation companies was the first attempt to rein in the industry because so much abusive behaviour was reported by people about the way they were treated by the clampers. The Independent Security Authority currently licenses the individuals working for a clamping company at a cost of £245 per annum.

However, licensing individuals did not stop the abuse and neither did it stop the poor signing, extortionate fees or the non-provision of receipts – because it is the companies that set the level of release fee or the position of the signage – not the individuals.

As soon as I became a Home Office minister with wheel clamping as part of my portfolio, I was deluged by letters from other MPs (representing their constituents) asking when we would do something about rogue clampers.

It seemed that we were continuing to try and make something work that never could or would. There had been little or no enforcement when complaints had been made against rogue clampers – even though they were now licensed. The police, with the best will in the world, did not have this as a priority in crime fighting. To move to licensing the companies as well as the individuals working for them and setting up an independent appeals process for aggrieved motorists would have been the next step. That would have meant more regulations that would not be enforced. As to the cost – an independent appeals process would cost £2million just for set up costs – and people would pay forever after for the running costs out of the fees they were charged.

The other option was to ban wheel clamping on private property altogether. Towing would have to be banned too – otherwise people would just find their vehicle disappeared instead of clamped. Banning had been introduced in Scotland in 1992 and had worked extremely well.

But what to do about the owners of private land? Of course – there has to be something to take the place of wheel clamping – some deterrent to prohibit people from parking on private property. Landowners have an absolute right to protect their land from people parking on it. So – in Scotland private landowners either protected that land by a barrier method or switched to ticketing.

Ticketing is highly regulated and consumer protection legislation already applies. There is already an independent appeals process in place – and it is a good and proportionate deterrent. A couple of people have raised the issue of there being so many unregistered / unlicensed cars – particularly in London, for example, and that these car owners would ignore a ticket. To that I would say to Boris and the Met police – about time this was properly dealt with rather than the go after ever more punitive methods for those who do pay up. It’s always the good guys who act responsibly and pay up – because they are good guys. Let’s go after the bad guys!

The legislation that is needed will be brought in through the Freedom Bill in or around November. If you would like to raise any issues or make any suggestions to inform that legislation – please feel free to write to me at the Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF

0 thoughts on “Wheel clamping continued……..

  1. While clamping on private property got out of hand, and more should have been done to regulate the industry – scrapping it totally on private land (while letting councils carry on) seemed a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

    If a person decides to dump their rubbish on my property, then I am perfectly within my rights to dispose of it.

    Why shouldn’t I be allowed to do the same to car shaped rubbish dumped on my property?

    If you the motorist are so crass and rude as to use my property as a free car park without even having the courtesy of asking me – simply because you are too lazy or tight fisted to seek out authorised car parks, then frankly, you have lost the moral argument.

    Motorists already have a quite remarkable amount of legal freedoms when it comes to road accidents that injure people, and now we have a system that says they can park with impunity on private property and might have to pay a fee if the land owner is in a position to sort out a ticketing system and chase up payments.

    Why are motorists increasingly above the law?

  2. Dear Ms Featherstone

    Again I re-iterate your comments in the column of the Ham & High is somewhat away from the entire truth?? you have stated that sucessive governments have tried to deal with Rogue Clampers??? when and where as labour had been in power for ages, Yes, we all agree the SIA licensed the individuals of which is a poor show as had they registered the companies forst then as I said live on Sky news last week “we may not have been in this situation if the companies were regulated” lets all remember it is the SIA that issued in excess of 10,000 licences to illegal immigrants, last week the national press stated that illegal immigrants were working as cleaners at The House of Commons, lets also not forget that The SIA is directed by the Home Office.

    May I remind you all of the Home office paperwork consultation dated 30th April 2009 of which I have copies for all to read if so required:

    it states the options by Alan Campbell MP
    The Issues;concerns about the vehicle immobilisation industry
    Option 1 – Status Quo – make no changes
    Option 2 – A voluntary code of Practice like the BPA
    Option 3 – Compulsory membership licensing scheme fo VI Businesses
    Option 4 – Compulsory Approved Contractor Scheme

    it then goes on to state para 47:
    The government beleives that Option 3, a business licensing scheme (BLS), offers the most effective approach. This would make it mandatory for businesses to be licensed, to help to ensure they sign up to standards of conduct which will be enforced if they are not met. The remit of The BLS will extend to all partnerships, sole traders etc who provide VI Services, whether in house or under contract and will not be restricted to limited companies

    No where does it state in the consutation does it state a complete ban
    Why is is that the home office will not acknowledge the facts, so where as mentioned bt the honourable secretary does it confirm that as she syas “successive governments have tried to dela with rogue clampers” the consultation paper was sent out and appears to have been completely ignored, I WILL quite happily forward the consultation papers onto anyperson that is interested to read for themselves, it is of course on Home Office letterheaded paperwork.

    Please any further infor would be greatly appreciated: localclampers@aol.com
    obviously I will mention that any abuseive emails will dealt with in the appropriate manner and be reported to the relevent authorities

    It looks like a one way street yet again and this time unfortunately by the colalition government

  3. @glen ford

    You seem to have forgotten that there was a General election in May and a change of government. This new government are not bound in any way to implement the (totally inadequate) plans of their predecessors which would only have continued the misery for millions.

    A good article Lynne and cogently puts the point as to why you had to act now and act robustly. It will be interesting to see the response from real people, as opposed to those with a clear vested interest in continuing this iniquitous practice.

  4. This debate seems ot be getting out of hand.
    Re ManInStreet ” . . .misery for millions . . .” is a ludicrous exaggeration – I doubt if more than a few tens of people have been required to pay more than is reasonable. The disabled anecdotes I am sure can be counted on the fingers of your hands.

    And if Lynne really believes that clamping is “. . . this poor solution (albeit to a very real problem) . . ” then it should be banned altogether – not just on private land – this would massively simplify any proposed law.

  5. The Daily Mail (17th Aug):

    “The Coalition has decided that enough is enough after 1.5 million motorists were snared by ruthless clamping companies last year.”


    So Adrian R Essex, reference to ”misery for millions” is hardly a ludicrous exaggeration. Just the truth.

    The Daily Mail again the same day:

    “This is a great day for freedom. Wheel clamping is to be banned on all private land – shutting down a £1billion industry of bullying and extortion that snared 1.5million motorists last year.”

    Hear! Hear!

  6. Still not addressing the question, why only on private land, Lynne? It has been asked often enough so you can’t have missed it.

  7. @ManInStreet: “It will be interesting to see the response from real people”. My only direct personal interest is a desire not to be clamped by the rogues (and I have been lucky enough not to suffer from them). I follow Glen Ford on the previous govt’s consultation being invalid, and also argue that England is very different from Scotland and that the environment now is very different from the 1992 environment when Scotland nipped in the bud the pernicious weed that has spread here. We need to exterminate the weed by way of rapid police action whenever it pops up.

  8. @Homer

    Sorry, the Daily Mail is not a good independent source.

    Do you have independent figures and a source reference?

    I’m guessing that they’ve factored-in private car parks to exaggerate their point and these of course include NCP and other national/regional carpark operators.

    If it had really been a big problem involving millions, any government would have taken action to stop it. Car drivers often vote you see.

  9. @dreamingspire

    Hmmmmm, ‘interesting’ use of metaphor, however, I think you’re wrong.

    If clamps are so bad, why not ban them full stop?

    Anyway, you only have to look around to see how badly and thoughtlessly people park their cars, why not regulate the industry?

  10. Reguation could and never would work. Even now there is a clamper over on the other blog saying that he is perfectly entitled to clamp cars with disabled badges, despite this being forbidden by his licence. When you have this level of disrespect for legal obligations regulation is a total waste of time and the only solution, as the government has correctly decided, is to end the practice entirely.

  11. @neville

    So you’re simply saying that you support outlawing clamping altogether?

    You see all councils are entitled to clamp disabled badge holders if they breach their parking rules.

    I don’t agree with mindless clamping, yet conversely, I don’t agree with out of control parking.

  12. @Bob
    Not sure what point you are making. Councils do not clamp disabled drivers as far as I am aware. I was merely pointing out that elsewhere on this site a self declared clamper has been defending his right to clamp cars displaying a disabled badge, despite this being unlawful.

    Nobody supports selfish parking but landowners will easily cope as they did in Scotland. Clamping is as the Daily Mail rightly says a £1 billion industry of bullying and extortion that is generated by the clampers themselves and does not reflect any genuine parking pressures.

  13. scotland do something like clamping which you could argue is worse, which is some landlords allow drivers into their can park have sign like clamping with fees on then they lock gate then will not let them out until they pay. how if this differenrt from clamping.

  14. @Jason Steel

    Yes this is correct in Scotland if the car is on your property, provided you don’t damage the vehicle (or move it I think) you are perfectly entitled to block it rendering it imobile. Also police have greater powers to tow the vehicle. Lynne Featherstone has said nothing about increased police powers except that the police can intervien if the vehicle is dangouresly parked.

    I do wonder if Lynne has been clamped at some point some years ago and this is her revenge because it does not look like she has thought this out properly

  15. @Martin Clarke

    Blocking in is aready licensed and so will also be banned when the law is in place.

    It is extremely dumb to suggest that Lynne has been clamped and is trying to get revenge by banning clamping as a result. It does not help to convince a person that their decision is wrong if you assign to them ulterior motives.

    On the contrary the policy to ban clamping is well thought out and argued. It was simply not on that people could continue to be ripped off in this way by out-of-control goons charging hundreds of pounds for minor infringements using hidden or non existent signage. Unlike the clampers and their supporters who continue to hang around this site in great numers, the vast majority of the public overwhelmingly approve this ban, having suffered the menace of this scourge for far too long.

  16. @ reasonable person

    Please tells us how you would stop rogue parking on private property. The proposed bill has no provision for removing rogue parkers. So the bill has not been well thought out.

    I completely understand that there are a lot of rogue clampers charging a fortune. On my land if I am forced to clamp because people refuse to read the large, well in sight, signs and these same people have not asked me if they can park. Then, I am forced to clamp them as a deterant so they do not do the same again. My charge is £40 and I have never had to tow cars, many times I’ve let them off if their story is valid, they always appologise. Like yourself I consider myself a reasonable person.

    This bill has not been drafted taken into consider business owners with car parks. Of couse non business owners are going to think that it’s fantastic that, come November, they can park anywhere they feel like.

  17. I proclaim that these measures are ludicrous and are typical of an MP who knows about government issues and absolutely nothing about the Private Parking Industry.

    I have 21 years of experience and run an highly respected company that operates in over 300 towns and cities in the UK, We also immobilise over a thousand vehicles per month without much complaint or bad press, Our release fee is a mere £80 and we very rarely tow away, perhaps just 10 a year and only when threatened with violence or at the proprietors wish. All my members of staff are vetted to BS7858 trained in conflict management and vehicle immobilisation and hold an SIA license. We are ISO 9001 2008 UKAS, Members of the BPA Approved Operators Scheme and currently awaiting certification from the SIA for their ACS “We are the good guys” (if there is such a thing) in the industry and although I am a honoured member of the Industry of Parking Professionals, the chairman of the largest Wheel clamping company on private land, inventor of the triangular clamp I/ We have not been approached and our opinions sort.
    Public awareness now of wheel clamping has brought ease and comfort to the proprietors all over the UK by providing low cost car parking management. The public (YOU) now has access to, Libraries, Your space at work or even out side your own home! We patrol Hospitals, Doctors and Clinics. Many a Shopping Centre, retail park, Department stores and shops that were previously abused by Fly Parker’s, Remember 1969 No-one wanted to see double yellow lines and traffic wardens but were would we be without them? The alternatives are similarly daunting. Are we actually going to turn the clock back to draconian measures. I.e. Pop up studs, unlocking chains, expensive barriers or do the government expect us all to issue Fixed Penalty Notices were only 62% volunteer payment whilst the rest end up with in the small claims court after which results in proceedings and visits from National firms of bailiffs, surely that is worse than what we have now. 

    The threat of Wheel Clamping Deters and provides good car park management. No more parking on grass verges, pavements on Hatched or yellow lines, double parking, out side emergency exits etc. try to imagine if I was to park on your driveway or take your parking spot and you have no recourse. IF this bill goes through then I can do Just that and you can’t do a thing about it! and trust me motorists do just that!

    Lets see sense “better the devil you know! All that’s required is a cap on the release fee at £80 to £100, A time limit before vehicles can be towed away with no extra fees and only used as a last resort such as instances like the blocking of fire exits, emergency exits or access to land or only if there is no way of relocation on site. All the companies should be licensed and regulated by the SIA and booted out for being over zealous. If you feel aggrieved you can go to the small claims court that’s what its there for!

    I wish I could penalise rogue wheel clampers I really do. I’ve spent 21 years of backlash from their antics and it makes me cringe. Remember I’m tarred with the same brush so I don’t go to meetings any more, I don’t answer their phone calls or join their groups. If I’m in an association its because there is a need, and not always that I agree! I’m more or less an independent and I’ll fight for what I believe in and what I think is right, after all every man’s home is his castle and I’ll help you defend it. What I won’t do is fight for the rights of someone who wants a fiscal gain or sees my endeavours as retribution, I won’t get into land disputes, I’m not that sort of guy! I’m here to provide good car park management using the threat of Vehicle immobilisation and that’s it!. I too hate Clamper’s and its more than most and with justification, trust me!

    I do however warn that I also doubt these days what is printed especially in the Daily Mail I can read between the lines and I know that the press either lie or exaggerate but you do hear some horror stories that is beyond beggars belief Fortunately there are plenty of us good guys out there and lots of them but their work never receives accolade, there again they don’t expect it. We too make mistakes of course we do! we are not definitely whiter than white, but we try to be “Our excuse” we just don’t know the truth any-more as we’ve seen it, heard it even from the nicest of people. With so many lies its just hard to trust any human ever again and Ironically the fact is Vehicle Immobilisers are perceived as being Shyster’s and unfortunately everyone decent I know within the industry is about to bail out and take as much cash as they can before going bust! They won’t listen to me any more and all of the good work both I and others have tried to achieve has been squandered and anyone who was border line in the past are now playing into the hands of the media. Ironically and believe it or not most decent people that have not been clamped, towed away nor received an FPN and stupidly you all benefit from our service in one way or another but you just don’t see it or think about it!

    The deterrent factor these days is around 95% Should you role the dice and get caught on average a clamp cycle including the on /off payment is made within 22 minutes and a wheel clamper can average apply/remove up to 10 units per hour in a busy area. A tow truck which is more expensive to run requires a compound and staff averages only 2.4 Vehicles per hour and when you look at the turn around of 3 hours of inconvenience to the Motorist then Clamping is a greater deterrent because the risk is higher. When people Claim Clamping is outlawed in Scotland THINK AGAIN! Because towing or locking in isn’t. So the proprietors choose to tow which is obviously more expensive and more inconvenient to get you car back. I’d rather be clamped than towed any-day. Further more I Fail to see how it can be said that a ban has worked in Scotland. Clamping may be banned in Scotland but is a great leap to say it has worked. How many Scottish landowners would introduce clamping if they could? They may have great problems but no legal remedy.
    Perhaps a survey of landowners in Scotland would reveal a desire for clamping services. Jersey banned it a while ago, again seeking a survey of landowners there may reveal a problem

    By law “Civil law” that is! We can legally charge up to £130.The BPA will endorse up to £125. I/We don’t take what I’m entitled to or what I can, I only take what I feel is fair, Which is £80 I don’t tow away and I don’t have escalating charges or trumped up expenses! which I believe makes me better than most MP’s in the house. So its down to the Governments and MP’s who create the Statutes and laws not mere Clamper’s. Right now wish I was an MP for just about anyone who’d have me and I’d put a stop to this witch-hunt on hard working caring car park attendants with limited power!

    The Home Office glibly say that a landowner will have to erect a barrier. Who do say is to pay for this? Flat dwellers who have had their finances ravaged by this Coalition Government. Business owners already facing problems because of the recession caused by poor Government oversight of the banks and tremendous waste of public funds? HMRC statistics show how many have had to plead with them for help in paying their tax demands. How does the Home Office suggest ticketing can work? How does the householder find the driver of a car and then pursue him through the Courts. Why should the victim of the crime have to pay to attempt to get justice. I thought Government policy was to shift the balance in favour of the victim!

    Mss Featherstone keeps mentioning one nurse who was clamped when visiting a patient. She omits to recognise that the nurse was trespassing on land and there against the owners wishes and without consent. Why should she assume consent just because she is a nurse. Can I park anywhere when visiting a client? No, how is it any different for a nurse, find a car park and walk the rest of teh way like the rest of us; you are doing no more than carrying out your daily work. A nurse does not attend life or death situations in an emergency, she simply changes a dressing or checks if a baby has a sore bum. That nurse parking may have prevented another genuine person getting access to HIS property; it is theft. Depriving a person of their property even for a short period is an act of theft.

    Should the Bill be passed and succeed then this is a government is doing a U turn on the Security Industries Act of 2004 Do I and my staff have a VI License. Have they/we been educated BTEC level 2 in Vehicle Immobilisation and educated to BTEC Level 2 in Conflict Management. Do we have an Edxcell approved training centre. National Clamps are members of the BPA AOS and almost a member of the SIA Approved Contractor Scheme. Should we seek compensation from the UK government through the European Courts we are not talking loss of income but loss of an industry.

    Applying tickets is not the same as Vehicle immobilisation, I Don’t accept that!
    I believe that 40% of Ticketed Motorists take advantage of the early bird discount Leaving very little sustainable profit A further 22% pay up after they’ve acquired ‘Owners Details’ which has its cost and overheads i.e. Telephone personnel, postage, websites, credit card fees, DVLA & The BPA. Taking a motorist to court is expensive and non profitable even using a non legal representatives and you’d lose if you don’t plus you cannot claim back expenses for loss of earnings for your witnesses (The Ticketer) Those that do go to court usually claim hardship and pay back a pound a week and debt collection via Bailiffs is far more controversial, expensive & time consuming than Wheel Clamping.

    If in November a bill is passed then a judicial revenue can be sought but the costs would be around £30,000 I for one will instigate such a procedure but I expect a commitment from ‘Others’ From within the Industry

    There are those who wish to park on Ms F driveway or at her Clinic.

    The fleet at Natioinal Clamps consists of 5 Mitsubishi Shoguns, 2 VW transporters and 12 Berlingo’s, I’m not Fibbing you can find a photograph of them on our web site entitled “The Grim Reapers” Come November they’ll have no purpose, So I too would like to place at least one of them on Mrs Featherstone’s driveway. I’m sure the Editor of the Daily Mail would be also be a strong contender, but the first on my hit list would be the head of the AA Legal affairs Mr. Edmund King. I do hasten to add that this would be laying into the hands of the media, but it would definitely bring a rye smile to my face just to see what they’d do when there is no power of recourse. You can’t ring the Police “Sorry Sir, Civil Matter Civil problem” You can’t damage the vehicle and you can’t clamp it, tow it, or ticket it! As you don’t have access to the DVLA you might get the owners details but that doesn’t mean to say I need to move it or pay up. I can see me talking myself into doing just that, But this is not the way. If you can politely get them to see the light then so be it! If not then you want to hurt or Discredit an MP. Then you persuade them to do a complete U turn. And this can be obtained by Lobbying, Threatening the removal of funding, loss of Voters, and making everyone else aware of the Implications of getting it wrong.

    Discredit: “is ticketing the answer ? No! “Is a ban the answer ? No! “What else is there” Its Legislation I am working full bore with the BPA trying to give the house an alternative. By making all companies Licensed. Cap the release fee under a £100. Almost Ban towing away except in the extreme and only when you cannot relocate on site. Place the onus of scruples on the landlord and make them equally responsible for the actions of the service provider. Make it unlawful to say clamping is in operation when it isn’t. Use the BPA AOS to provide a code of practise and the SIA AOS to provide standards.

    Lobbying: I have meticulously copied and pasted every Member of parliaments email address’s (741 as some have 2) and a further members 237 from the house of lords. From parliament .co.uk. I am looking for members of the house who will present our argument in the commons and embarrass our right honourable friends, who are trying to bring this motion in via the back door named ‘The freedom bill’ I ask you!

    I intend to write to my 880 clients who have over 3,000 sites in almost 300 Towns and cities. Most of which are either housing associations, who have like The royal Borough of Kingston a former council estate which is on the doors of a University or Cambridge City council who suffers from shoppers parking on land that is considered industrial estate. Maybe Kidderminster General Hospital will tell you that revenue collection has trebled when threaten by clamping. Motorway Service station, retail parks and any around railway or tube stations which are abused by commuter’s that leave there car for the day, every day. You take away the threat of clamping and you will turn back the clock to the late eighties early nineties when you parked up, took a look around made up an excuse in your head (if you get caught) and then walked off only now we have twice as many cars.

    Most of my clients are large property owners and big financiers of local councils / local government. We need to approach these and get them either to retract funding or threaten to cross over the house. I also issue over 105,000 parking permits to businesses, housing associations and office staff alike, I intend to inform them that to take away the threat of wheel clamping Anarchy will pursue. When the implications are made clear then voters will indeed vote differently, Labour isn’t looking so bad after all David Milliband or Harriet Harman may be interested in a fight in November and we will provide ammunition as big as an H Bomb. Remember this is an hung parliament our actions could bring down the coalition. I’m sure we can get a few Discontented and Disillusioned Con and Lib Dems to sustain.

    Finally getting it wrong: My loss would prove to be substantial as I not only the owner of National clamps But I also invented and own the patent GB2251416 Which is the triangular Wheel-clamp that incorporates chains to retain the immobilisation device against the wheel. My franchisee’s immobilise almost 1,000 vehicles per month whilst my VI’s in training issue around 250 FPN’s Risking !50K to fight this ban in the European Courts is insignificant and I quite fancy doing it as I was contemplating selling Nutty clumps anyway.

    I am retired and reasonably wealth off, not the abundant pile I would have liked but there again my release fee is kept to a minimum and is heavily subsidised by the selling of the warning signs around the proprietors car park. i.e. £30 per year per sign. The fee in 1989 was a mere £25 and successive increments have now brought the fee to what it is today of £80. I am just a singular part of a billion pound industry and remember I am just one of over 500 other companies. Should the government get this wrong WHICH they have by acting hastily. Compensation will be forth coming and this unfortunately will not come from the buggers who abuse car parks by fly parking it will be the tax payer the motorist etc.

    My legal team are very confident about the outcome and passionate in our quest.

    Trevor Whitehouse
    Chairman & Founder National Clamps 1989~ Present day
    (Unemployed like others tomorrow)

  18. @Trevor

    I think you will find that lawyers will be quick to take your money promising all sorts but very slow to explain when it does not work. The possibility of overturning this ban is very remote indeed. If things were as you suggest the government would never be able to pass any legislation because of the groups it necessarily impacts. It seems to me that the government has more than enough ammunition to meet the challenge and indeed clampers can count themselves lucky that the practice has not been outlawed well before now.

    But far be it from me to put you off if you fancy a crack. It is your money after all. And those of other clampers if they wish to join you. I’m sure the vast majority of the pubic who warmly welcome the ban would be amused to see the irony of clampers lose some of their money for once.

    Regards lobbying, again go ahead and good luck with that. But don’t forget that Lynne has said she was inundated with letters from MPs asking when something would be done. And presumably those MPs were inundated with letters from constituents telling all sorts of horror stories. There are no votes in keeping clamping but potentially very many votes if it goes and Parliament can be seen to have acted decisively.

    There is no chance that Labour, whatever leader is in place, will oppose this measure, given that it is so popular. Indeed some leading Labour figures have already welcomed it, so talk of bringing the government down is fantasy wishful thinking.

  19. Lynne,

    You may not have seen the Citizens Advice press release warmly welcoming the ban on clamping:

    “Gillian Guy Chief Executive of Citizens Advice said:

    “We are extremely pleased that the government has decided to deal with the scourge of clamping and towing on private land, as a matter of urgency. These cowboy clampers have been treating their business as a licence to print money. A straightforward ban should provide those enforcing the law with the robust tool needed to put the illegality of these practices beyond doubt.

    Enquiries to bureaux across England and Wales about parking and congestion have risen 88% (from 8,514 -15,982) in the four years from April 2006-March 2010. Evidence from our clients clearly shows that the methods currently employed by private parking companies are hugely disproportionate compared to the nature of the problems they are trying to tackle. Often minor breaches of the poorly displayed parking rules or genuine mistakes in interpreting the parking conditions have resulted in charges of hundreds of pounds.

    The new proposals still allow private land owners, such as supermarkets and leisure centres, to reserve parking spaces for their own customers. But a much fairer approach is now called for. We hope that retailers will take a proportionate approach and accept that their customers occasionally make mistakes, such as overstaying by a few minutes when queues at the till are particularly long.

    A CAB in Gloucestershire reported an elderly lady who found her car being clamped before she had even left the car park. She was immediately charged £250 which she was told also covered towing away. She told the clamper she had to go and get the money out, but on her return a tow truck dropping off another car was preparing to load hers. There were no obvious signs, the clampers had no ID, no photograph was taken of the car to show the alleged breach of parking rules, her receipt didn’t contain details of the clampers and there was no separate charge for clamping without towing away. Her complaint was rejected by the clamping firm.”

  20. Also a big thumbs up to the plans to ban clamping from the Trading Standards boss in Birmingham:

    “The Birmingham council boss responsible for trying to drive cowboy clampers out of the city has welcomed a new government ban as “long overdue”.

    Chris Neville, head of trading standards at Birmingham City Council, said the authority had been campaigning for 20 years to make the practice illegal.

    And he said it was good news for Birmingham because the city seemed to suffer more than its fair share of unscrupulous clampers and they were blighting its image.

    Yesterday the Government announced that from early next year clamping would be illegal on private land.

    A Bill will be put before Parliament in November.

    It follows years of complaints from motoring organisations and councils about the “loutish” behaviour of private firms who, in some cases, extorted thousands of pounds out of unsuspecting drivers.

    Mr Neville said Birmingham had some success in tackling the problem – with its biggest victory being the two-year jail term given to clamper Andrew Baker in May.

    Baker, of Pithall Road, Shard End, admitted conspiracy to defraud 36 victims out of £12,000 via his firm Inter Park UK.

    Mr Neville said two other high profile cases were due before the courts in the autumn – but that gathering the evidence was costly and time-consuming.

    “We set up a three to four-person team to concentrate on these clampers which is a huge amount of resources,” he said.

    “For some reason Birmingham has been hit worse than other cities and that is especially bad for people coming into the city who get clamped and then leave with a bad impression.”

    Mr Neville said his department had spent the last 20 years trying to get clamping either outlawed or more tightly regulated.

    “Every week we get motorists ringing up saying they’ve been clamped and is there anything we can do about it?” he said.”

  21. @Edward: “Mr Neville [of Birmingham City Council] said his department had spent the last 20 years trying to get clamping either outlawed or more tightly regulated.” Exactly: he wants a solution but doesn’t just want outlawing – he should be thinking more carefully about the effects of a ban, and thus go for regulation (including effective enforcement of that regulation, as we don’t appear to today have enforcement of existing law – and his Council should be enforcing existing law).

  22. I went to Nick Clegg meets at Croydon last week and asked him about this. His response didn’t seem to tie in with your Column. I will be writing to you at the Home Office on behalf of all the people who live in the properties I look after as a Housing Officer and who even now with clamping enforcement in place ring me to say some obnoxious (my word not theirs) person has parked in their bays, including the disabled bays. The same type of people who park on the hatched out area for ambulances, and stop the refuse collectors doing their job by parking so the bins can’t be emptied. Nick Clegg said there would be exceptions to the ban, but I suspect he meant for Councils, rather than Social Housing Providers.

  23. @dreamingspire

    ha, ha, talk about selective quotation.

    “Chris Neville, head of trading standards at Birmingham City Council, said the authority had been campaigning for 20 years to make the practice illegal.”

    “The Birmingham council boss responsible for trying to drive cowboy clampers out of the city has welcomed a new government ban as “long overdue”.

    Seems fairly clear to me that he did not just want tighter regulation but an outright ban.

  24. Lynne

    There is no justification for banning the use of clamps on Private Land or the Right to Remove from Premises unless it is also banned by Local Authorities, The DVLA, etc.

    The is no validity in being able to issue ‘tickets’ as they amount to no more than a private ‘invoice’ and unless you are going to permit everyone in the country to access the Keepers details at the DVLA (instead of selling them to private companies), then you place private landowners at a distinct disadvantage.

    Most of your fugures are not proven, there is no official record of official complaints about ‘rogue’ clampers just media coverage and for each rogue clamp in the uk there is likely to have been 20-30K clamps across the country that did not result in complaints about overcharging and roguish behaviour.

    You are not BY LAW and without a change in current law permitted to remove my right to protect my property therefore your ban is meaningless. There are more far effective and MORE costly methods of dealing with illegal parkers and providing that neither the car or the person are injured, damaged, etc, then the law can do nothing.

    I can see from the Hansard records you have NO INTENTION of taking any notice of the public that will have thier rights infringed in relation to this matter, so I must presume you are just another power hungry dictator that has no more regard for the tax paying public (your employer) than Gordon Brown had with for our money!

  25. Pingback: Legal Weapon: cowboy clampers turn to tickets- Any comments? - I don't feel 50 Forums

  26. Well done Lynne for a principled and long overdue decision. Pay no heed to the clearly biased and self serving views of clampers and their associates crowding around this site who profess ignorance as to why this semi criminal practice had to go. The general public warmly welcome this measure, as is shown by consistent polling.

  27. This is in danger of being a sledgehammer to crack a nut, as a result of this anti-clamping campaign. The private parking industry has good and bad and I believe has done far too little to clean up its act, leading to this baying for action. Please, please think the proposed legislation through rather than rush in something as a popular knee-jerk to deal with the menace inflicted by poor operators. People will just park where they please without fear of any real retribution. Parking tickets are like throwing smarties at the problem. As a last resort will the police really be interested in taking action? What about the situation where your favourite supermarket car park suddenly has an unwelcome influx of caravans? Is the owner going to be caught by this law and be unable to move them without resorting to a long legal process? There needs to be effective sanctions (but not extortion) to prevent mayhem.

  28. @lynne

    Until the ban; please could you increase the cost of a SIA immobilise licence from £245 per operator to say £24,500. This could go towards the National Debt until the ban is bought in.

  29. What are all the clampers doing on here whinging and crying like little girls about the loss of their scam living? Have they not got a job bullying and extorting people out of their hard earned? At this rate they cannot claim to be affected by the ban as they seem to spend most of their time on Lynne Featherstone’s website bleating and complaining. Sort of an Online Clampers Convention.

  30. Whilst in Kendal today I saw a pay & display car park that charged £20 if your car is clamped because the ticket time has run out or a ticket was not purchased. Now £20 does not seem like a rip off to me, it’s a warning not to do it again. How else are car park owners to regulate their property.

    I don’t own a car park, I use car parks and I will only use proper car parks. I never park on someone else’s land if I am not using their facilities. But this ban makes me think that people will park anywhere they wish, even a pay & display car park and not buy a ticket, or let their ticket run out. If this does happen then where do we all park when all the spaces are full. How does a landowner regulate their property?

  31. I’m not a clamper and I have been on the thin end of the wedge paying 150 quid of my hard-earned to get a clamp off. I just think politicians are often too quick to climb onto these sort of bandwagons then rush through legislation to earn a few more votes. Then afterwards it dawns on people that the change in law does not really sort it out. I am in favour of something being done provided it deals effectively with the actual problem.

  32. I am disabled and live in the block of flats belonging to a housing association.

    There are signs on the wall that the car park is for “residents only” spaces are numbered to correspond to the door numbers making sure that there is NO DOUBT that other vehicles cannot park – yet they do – and what is the perfect solution when a car parks in my space preventing me from using it, something which is theft and harassment?

    Pick up the phone and call the TOW AWAY company.
    Watch the vehicle removed.
    Park in my own space – which I PAY FOR.

    And when you ban it that will not happen – so it is clear you WANT disabled people to suffer.

    Don’t make excuses and talk about “gates” these are left open, sometimes deliberately and towing away makes the problem go away.

    Then it becomes the problem of the trespasser – NOT ME.

    I will not be voting for LD again (Bredbury, Stockport) if this bill is passed. You need instead to deal with any person or organisation who fails to follow the law and their SIA license.

  33. It has been banned in Scotland for 18 years and you don’t hear them complaining and crying out for it to be re-introduced. Far too many clamping fines are unfair, unreasonable or both and people like Ms McDonald obviously haven’t experienced the misery of being faced with a several hundred pound fine for un-wittingly parking in the wrong place for 3 minutes.

    Her problem outlined above is indeed very real but what do the Scots do? A licensed ticketing system is the answer. It doesn’t get the car moved but it will certainly mean they don’t do it again, while at the same time offering a fair and reasonable punishment for what the crime was. At present many clamping fees are 50% of a months wages for many people, and have to be paid immediately. You get off better in the courts on an assault or theft charge!

  34. “Ticketing is highly regulated and consumer protection legislation already applies. There is already an independent appeals process in place – and it is a good and proportionate deterrent.”

    Lynne – ticketing isn’t regulated in the slightest. Tickets are issued under contract law – they are actually mere invoices. In 99% of cases the invoice is a charge for breach of contract and the law has long established that the remedy for this is actual losses incurred.

    No losses are incurred on a free car park. On a pay and display it may be one or two pounds.

    It is a scam at the end of the day. Company buys keeper details from the DVLA – WHICH THE GOVERNMENT IS HAPPY TO SELL THEM UNDER THE GUISE OF ‘REASONABLE CAUSE’ and then they are bombarded with threatening letters.

    Eventually they go away (little chance of court because they’d lose). There is no appeals process.

  35. Re: above comment.

    It’s companies like LBS (google them, they have a shocking history of greed) who have caused clamping to be banned. More should have been done to regulate the industry. Having a price cap for a start. I completely blame our previous and present government for allowing this to get out of hand. As what LBS are doing and have done is completely legal because of our said governments.

    I don’t agree with Vince is a saints’s last comment that, “There are no honest clampers.” They are there as a deterent to rogue parkers, of which there are many more of than rogue clampers. The arts center in Kendal charges £20 release fee. Wheatsheaf pub in Ingleton, North Yorkshire charges £15 release fee. A pub (I can’t rmember the name of, sorry) in Holmfirth charges £10 release fee. I’m sure there must be many more throughout the land.

    With this LBS case it’s interesting that the police had no powers. When the ban is imposed come November, what will the police do then? I have a strong feeling that they still will not help as they will state that it is a cival matter.

  36. Corrupt Police Officer suspended!

    Yvette Ashton [“the Carboard Cop”] – who hit the headlines when life-sized pictures were dotted around Preston city centre to deter criminals – has been dismissed for gross misconduct.

    A disciplinary hearing was told a member of the public conacted the police after her vehicle was clamped in Preston city centre.

    The driver claimed there was no warning signs when she parked on the private land and alleged a witness had seen clampers fix a notice to a wall before clamping her vehicle.

    A passing PCSO telephoned Ms Ashton, who arrived at the scene with the clampers and dismissed the motorist’s claims.

    The woman lodged a formal complaint with Lancashire Police, claiming the then police constable had failed to investigate her complaints adequately.

    Police investigators then discovered Ms Ashton, who lives in Walmer Bridge, had a private arrangement with the clampers to allow her to park her own car on private land while she was at work.

    The 46-year-old was subsequently dismissed following a hearing at Lancashire Constabulary’s headquarters, which questioned her “honesty and integrity”.

    The hearing also investigated complaints that Ms Ashton had twice reported to work in plain clothes.

    Today Ms Ashton, who was a police officer for 14 years, vowed to appeal the decision describing the incident as “a mistake”.

    The mother-of-three claimed she struck the parking deal to help her get to work on time as she has a severely disabled son, Oliver, who needs special care.

    Her husband, Kevin Browne, 44, said: “While working in the city centre, Yvette became friends with the manager of a local vehicle clamping company.

    “Yvette told this manager about Oliver’s disability and the problems she has parking near the new police station.

    “He said he would speak to the manager at a local organisation which has land available for local business people to park on using a permit, to see if he could help.

    “The manager of the organisation agreed for Yvette to have use of a permit to park, but only if there was sufficient room.”

    However, Mr Browne admitted his wife had not invesigated the woman’s complaints properly.

    He said: “This woman (the motorist) saw a police community support officer and told him about the situation. The PCSO rang Yvette who was on duty and sensing panic in his voice, Yvette assumed a clamp was being cut off so she called the manager of the clamping company and asked him to make his way to the scene.

    “He asked her where she was and as she was not far away, he offered her a life, which she accepted.

    “When Yvette got there, the clamping manager stayed in the van and let her deal with the dispute.

    “The clampers assured Yvette they were not allowed to carry signs in the van and that a sign erector was always called to put signs up.

    “Yvette knew from her friendship with the clamping manager that this was the way things were supposed to happen.

    “She made a decision not to look in the clampers van to check there were no signs or fitting equipment as she didn’t think she needed to.

    “But by not dealing with this dispute properly, the police professional standards decided Yvette’s integrity was in serious question as she had been given a permit by this clamping company and they felt she was biased towards the clamping company.”

    Ms Ashton today said: “At this stage, I do not want to comment on the outcome of the hearing because I am going to appeal.

    “I want to clear my name and get my job back as I did not deserve to be dismissed for a mistake.”

    A spokesman from Lancashire Police said: “Ms Ashton was dismissed by the Constabulary at a misconduct hearing on September 1.

    “She was found to have breached the standards of professional behaviour expected by a police officer following a complaint received from a member of the public.”

  37. To Matt Allwright’s Friend
    Obviously you have just progressed from reading picture books to reading the sun newspapers, as any educated person knows that newspapers twist the truth so they can sell newspapers to people like you.
    I know Yvette Ashton and know the facts surrounding this case, so I can tell you and anyone else that the article in the papers WAS twisted and made for her to look bad. The papers don’t tell you that it was not the clamping company which issued her the permit but the corporation which owns the land where she parked her car.
    The papers don’t tell you that there are other police officers with similar arrangements allowing them to use parking permits, but that’s ok is it?
    The papers don’t tell you that a few weeks previous to this issue Yvette asked for two clamps to be removed from cars as in her mind the clampers were out of order, the clamps were removed.
    The papers don’t tell you that the officer who was investigating Yvette had a bullying complaint against him from Yvette but he was still allowed to conduct the investigating, prejudicial?
    The reason police officers have to make their own parking arrangements is that they are not allowed to park in the police car park unless they are an inspector or above, or a civilian police employee, also the police officers who park away from the station have had their cars vandalised.
    People are so quick to criticize police officers who are spread across the front pages but for gods sake wake up and learn to read between the lines.
    The police have to make decisions albeit sometimes wrong ones, after all they are human too, but to dismiss a person for making a wrong or bad decision when they have an unblemished character is out of order.
    The whole process of this investigation has been flawed from the start and all her friends and colleagues are backing Yvette to get her job back. She has given a lot to the police force and to the community as a whole and it is the forces loss of a good officer should she not be reinstated.

  38. This is to Smallville or should I call you smallminded. Who ever you are, you need to stop making judgement before condeming people. Obviously you have just advanced from reading picture books to reading newspapers, I will let you in on a secret, they do not tell the whole story, but you have to be educated to realise this which obviously you are NOT.
    I know Yvette and I know what happened that day, but what the newspaper didn’t let people know was that she had two clamps removed on two seperate occasions, one was a pregnant woman and the other a disabled pensioner, the clampers were not happy about it but they removed the clamps after Yvette spoke to the owner of the clamping firm. Neither Yvette or myself agree with clamping but how would you like it if some one parked on your drive way for a few hours, you wouldn’t like it as the next person. If there are clamping signs visible then you have no excuse, also when parking on private land it becomes a civil matter not a criminal offence so go back to school and try to gain some more brain cells, the other one’s lonely.
    PS. get a life

  39. I give my full support to the Liberal Democrats, for defending the
    civil rights of the English people, and will keep voting for the
    Liberal Democrats.

    If they want to win even more votes, from millions of people in
    the United Kingdom, here is a simple solution.

    After making wheel clamping, gate locking, and towing illegal,
    make it law for all parking tickets, to always give at least one
    free warning, to each individual vehicle, and then make it law
    to set the maximum charge for all parking tickets to £10
    in any 24 hour period. Whoever they are issued by council,
    or borough, company or private individual, either on public
    or private land.

    This is fair, as it reduces the incentive for scams, extortion,
    and criminal activities, and provides a legal way for the
    owner of land, or parking space to receive a payment
    for the service of providing a parking space, for a day.

    If this was made national, and European law, then it would
    become general public knowledge, in the Highway Code,
    and a mutually agreed system would be created, which
    would have distinct advantages for our capitalist economic
    system, notably:-

    (1) Reduce inflation, strengthening the GBP, and Euro.

    (2) Recover consumer confidence, which been adversely
    effected by extortionate over charging, by business’s.
    Which is a major cause of the global economic slow
    down, and recession.

    What consumers (the people) want is a consumer price index
    that works for them again, when was the last time we had
    one, that offers us low inflation, and value for the pound?

    Making it law for companies to refund payments that they
    have taken from people, will achieve this even more quickly.
    redress the balance, and clean up the matter.

    Thank you for your help Ms Lynne Featherstone.