/ Motoring

Three cheers for the ban on clamping

Car's front wheel clamped

At last! Clamping or towing cars on private land in England and Wales has been banned. That’s right, banned. It’s good news for all of us, especially if you’ve been affected by so-called ‘cowboy clampers’.

The government hasn’t merely promised to carry out the previous government’s planned regulation of private clamping – it’s scrapped it.

The Scots reached this point of rationality in 1992, and England and Wales will follow suit shortly after November’s Freedom Bill.

This only covers parking on private land – roughly speaking any parking off the street itself – which means no clamping in shopping centres, train stations, hotels or hospital car parks. This is definitely a big win.

End of the road for ‘cowboy clampers’

Anyone found clamping or towing on private land will face criminal prosecution and stiff fines. Though private clampers will still be able to pop tickets on our windscreens.

Clamping will now be controlled by the government and councils, where cars will only be clamped or towed if they’re untaxed, unroadworthy or happen to be blocking the road.

Transport minister Norman Baker commented that “cowboy clampers have had ample opportunity to mend their ways but the cases of bullying and extortion persist”.

We’ve seen depressing evidence of that type of behaviour over the years, with Which? Legal Service getting calls from two members who’d been clamped in lay-bys while their engines were still running.

No more happy clampers

Not surprisingly, rather a lot of people are rather pleased. Stephen Glaister of the RAC Foundation says many “will breathe a sigh of relief after years of outrageous behaviour”.

Even trade body the British Parking Association was reduced to sounding half-pleased, with its chief executive Patrick Troy saying it had “long lobbied for better regulation of the private parking sector, including clamping”. Before going on to call the government’s plans “a charter for the selfish parker”.

There is a chink of light for ‘cowboy’ clampers – they might become dodgy ticketers. But the government hopes to stop this from going out of control by asking land owners to put up barriers if they want to restrict access.

In general, this ban on clamping appears to be that rare thing – good news all round. Unless you’re a clamper.

A response to those concerned about the clamping ban and a chance to vote in our poll.

Comments
Guest
litrw says:
9 September 2010

Let’s face it how hard is it to park correctly and lawfully … It’s not rocket science.

I’ve held a driving licence for 30 years and not been clamped. It’s not down to luck but by using common sense.

All you need to do is look at the locale, for example if you have a pay & display car park near where you are parking what’s the likelihood that you have managed to strike oil.

If you are going to park in a residential area and visit the local shops what’s the likelihood the parking belongs to the shops. If you park in a shops car park and cross the road what’s the likelihood that the parking belongs to the other shop.

When parking in a residential or business area what’s the likelihood that no parking enforcement is in operation.

Guest
litrw says:
9 September 2010

If you have received a speeding ticket or been clamped you probably deserved it.

If you don’t speed and use official pay & display car parks you won’t receive a speeding ticket or find your vehicle clamped.

Profile photo of Richard Dilks
Guest

I completely agree that clamping is a very perverse action if the detriment comes from that space being taken up – how has clamping the car helped? Towing’s different there of course.

But what I’ve learned from this post and poll and the original post is that lots of people see clamping and towing signs as a very effective deterrent.

Unless the government changes tack we’ll have to wait and see what the effect of the ban on clamping and towing on private land is – whether there’s a net gain for us all in being free of the outrageous behaviour many Which? members have suffered from clampers and towers, or England and Wales are swamped with rogue ticketers and flatowners unable to park outside their own flat.

I still think the ban’s a good thing overall, but I’m prepared to be proved wrong.

Guest
chris says:
25 August 2011

I have recently been clamped and feel it was unjust and the release fee of £205.00, extortionate to say the least, but i don’t know where to go to appeal, as a friend was also clamped in the same spot on the same day, she sent her appeal off and it has been returned as address is unknown, other enquiries have also come to dead ends, phone numbers etc, so is the company of clampers called Citywatch legal or not, who do we turn to for help, to find out if we were illegally clamped, or we have a right to appeal with looking to refunds, can you or anyone else who reads this help please.

Profile photo of richard
Guest

As a person that suffers from illegal parking in my forecourt – without the ability to clamp or remove the offending car – I think it is an appalling infringement of my property.

It it becomes worse – I will have to resort to painting the cars (worked before) – As an OAP I can;t afford to pay for a fence on £103 per week.

But of course it is wonderful for the irresponsible driver. Not Me – and I own the property!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guest
Just Me says:
19 January 2012

Clamping is necessary, but not by charlatans and criminals!

However, if you are inconsiderate and park wherever you like, inconveniencing someone else through no fault of their own, then you should be inconvenienced by loosing your beloved money. Then again, if an emergency occurs and your car is thoughtlessly parked in the way, attributing to someone’s death who might have otherwise received hospital treatment in time, would you then be liable as an accessory to that death? Think about that for a moment.

Guest
Bob Smytherman says:
7 August 2012

Wheel clamping ban will be a ‘Charter for the Selfish Parker’

New Parking Appeals Service will give Extra Protection to Motorists (but what about Flat Owners?)

The Federation of Private Residents’ Associations (FPRA) which represents flat owners in England and Wales accused the Government of ignoring flat owners and tenants with the announcement of an outright ban on clamping cars on private land, as we believe it will cause major problems for ordinary residents living in blocks of flats with a parking space.

The Protection of Freedom Act which received Royal Assent earlier this year ignores all the issues we raised during the passage of this Bill regarding the car clamping ban and it will now be included in the Coalition’s The Protection of Freedoms Act which comes in to force on October 1st.

The Government’s response to our concerns is that landowners can erect barriers around their property to control illegal parking. This might be fine for well-heeled companies, the landed gentry and government departments, but it displays a dismal ignorance of how this can be achieved in blocks of flats.

The FPRA pointed out to the Home Office that

1. Residents and leaseholders of blocks of flats may not be able to install barriers because the terms of the lease will not allow them;

2. If the lease does allow or if it is amended to allow (a very complicated and costly process) the installation of barriers, the cost of installing and maintaining them will fall on the ordinary leaseholder, which includes pensioners and the not-so-well-off. Will the government contribute to this cost?

3. Barriers are restrictive and inconvenient to residents, visitors and trade vehicles interfering with the free movement in and out of where they live, work or visit.

Federation Chairman Bob Smytherman said:

“The Coalition Government’s understanding of car clamping is depressingly naive as they seem to just think that it’s a black and white issue of drivers as victims, when in fact victims are also residents whose lives are plagued by illegally parked cars.

“Ministers naively thinks ‘landowners’ can just erect barriers, having no understanding that ‘landowners’ also includes ordinary people – leaseholders – in blocks of

flats who could be forced to pay for the installation and management of barriers, if the lease allows it. And most likely the lease will not allow it, in which case there is little that those residents can do to effectively keep out unwanted cars.

“This new law will bring misery to a lot of people and certainly not the ‘Freedom’ the Government claim.”

The FPRA argued that the real problem with the system was the rogue car clampers, and the solution should have been to regulate them, not ban the practice.

FPRA Chairman Bob Smytherman who represents leasehold flat owners on the BPA (AOS Board) added:

“Whilst we are very disappointed that the Government ignored our concerns about banning wheel clamping, we must comply with the law of the land and therefore we strongly recommend to leasehold flat owners that you cease wheel clamping on your land as soon as possible and instruct a BPA (Approved Operator) to manage your site to comply with the new Protection of Freedom Act 2012 and to benefit from the new Independent Appeals Service after 1st October. Not only must this scheme be totally independent of the operators but be seen to be independent too.”