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.