/ 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.


Wonderful – I will look forward to seeing a great number of irresponsible motorist parking anywhere they like irrespective of needs of the owner of the private property.

It is certainly NOT good news if you keep finding idiot motorists parking on your property. And now I have to incur .the costs of expensive barriers – just to keep people OUT when they have no right to be there in the first place.

There are far too many inconsiderate motorists already – This will simply encourage them to be more inconsiderate..

They can still put tickets on windscreens, it’s only clamping and towing that’s been outlawed.

@PatrickSteen And even then, it hasn’t happened yet. All that’s happened is that the Coalition is going to include legislation banning the practice in its Autumn bumper ‘Freedom Bill’.

Interestingly, I’m pretty sure they said the Freedom Bill would only be getting rid of legislation, and not introducing new bits – so perhaps they’re just removing whatever legislation allows private companies to clamp people on private land.

As a driver, I can see Richard’s point of view, a free-for-all is no good to anyone.

Legislation for larger, standardised signs, and very stiff fines for any clampers who didn’t comply, would have been a better way forward.

Ticketing windscreens is the worst of all worlds, where nobody knows where they stand, but I can see this taking off to a ridiculous extent as a direct result.

Alan Paine says:
20 August 2010

No this is not a good idea – there are too many motorists parking on private property already – you try running a business with its own car park near a commuter station.

Paul Tanner says:
20 August 2010

The change is aimed at certain private parking operators, not anyone with parking spaces on private property,
The operator of a car park serving the public should comply.
However, if someone just parks on your property you should be allowed to clamp.
Clamping is a lot less severe than towing which can also waste police time as people whose cars disappear from a public car park on private land will tend to assume that their car is stolen.

Paul Tanner says:
20 August 2010

I got stung for 250 quid when a parking stiker slipped off my windscrren. Clamped and towed by the time I got back to the car.
Private operator refused to return the money even when I showed proof of payment.

A not dissimilar event on a public road was successfully resolved by a court so in future that’s exactly where we can take the cowboys.

John French says:
20 August 2010

I am getting very tired of people parking in my garden, presumably because I live near a beautiful country walk. I have been about to try padlocking a heavy chain on the wheel of the next one. I think I will still do so – be interesting to see what the magistrate thinks if someone wants to take me to court.

Rosemary BAZUNU says:
20 August 2010

They are simply Rogues. I just worry now that their thieving will be eliminated where else these crooked people called cowboys go next.

Graham Forecast says:
20 August 2010

sounds a good idea if you don’t think about the implications. But this will give the green light to motorists parking – deliberately – on private property. We were were quoted over £15000 to put security gates at the entrance to our block of flats. There must be a middle way allowing responsible clampers to operate but still providing protection to the motorist against the bad ones.
Does anyone from Scotland have any comments on what has happened there?

I absolutely agree with this- and the comments of others here that are concerned that this is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I am all for stopping rogue clampers pouncing on unsuspecting people who haven’t seen their tiny signs and demanding extortionate sums, say in hospital, shop or pub car parks. However as a Director of a Residents’ Management Company for a block of flats I am now left with no way to enforce our one-permit-per-flat parking scheme. I dread going back to the days that inconsiderate residents could allow numerous guests in to park in our 16 space car park (that serves 33 flats) leaving other inconsiderate residents to park in front of our garages, block the access road, park on the lawn etc etc. Having the power to get cars selfishly parked towed away has made life easier and fairer for everyone.

Pastor Brian Drury says:
20 August 2010

As with above comments this ban would be a good thing, and Yes, I have been caught by an extortionate clamper. If only some drivers were intelligent. My church has recently spent a lot of money to create disabled parking and access alongside the building. Last Sunday we could not drop anyone off there as people had filled the space with their cars while the roadworks further down the road are blocking their normal parking places (on the pavement).
This caused great distress to the elderly and those who find walking difficult. When one was approached later this week after being warned, he threatened to say we were racially motivated in denying him parking on our land!
Others have at least moved off our land now allowing the access we spent so much time and money providing, not just for ourselves but for other community groups which use our church.
Bring back clamping – it might bring in some money we sorely need! (But with legal obligations such as warnings for the first offence)
Pastor Brian

Derek Bernard says:
20 August 2010

I agree with Richard and Pastor Brian Drury. The ban will encourage selfish, inconsiderate parking.

John Howard says:
20 August 2010

I live in a small block of flats and frequently couldn’t find a parking place on site because of the inconsiderate people who want to drink at the pub opposite but don’t want to use their car park. I have a designated parking place but frequently found someone parked there. We employed a clamper and it worked wonders. Tickets and complaints don’t work. People know you’re not going to take ignorant parkers to the small claims court. Any better suggestions?

I don’t use clamping – But I have had a number of motorists parking on my land – It is well signposted but they even park in front of my garage – so I can’t use MY OWN car. – There seems to be no way to get the police interested…

Tickets on the windscreen are ignored – I found then screwed up on the floor.

Now with persistent offenders – and there can be many – I paint their windscreen – As it is not an offence to paint anything on my private property.

It may be of interest to note – those with painted windows do not re-offend

John says:
20 August 2010

I also worry about what effective , legal deterrent, will be available to owners of private car parks, if the threat of clamping is removed. I am faced with the potential expense of installing a gate, and the inconvenience and cost of a padlock and 100 keys so the legitimate parkers can get in and out.
I’d like to know the legal position of a car park owner who resorted to painting windscreens, or similar wholly justified retaliatory steps if/when clamping becomes illegal.

Brian Rogers says:
20 August 2010

The abolition of clamping and towing away is pandering to public sentiment . I agree that cowboy clampers and exhorbitant penalties need to be dealt with .However what is required is strict licensing and regulation of clampers including the size and positioning of regulatory signs . Regulations should include an independent appeals process . The small claims court has been successfully used by people who have been unreasonably clamped .

Many new developments , whether flats or houses , have unadopted roads where the sweeping , lighting and maintenance of the road is funded by the residents . Surely they should have the freedom to decide to employ clampers to remove unauthorised parked vehicles from their streets and parking spaces .

Many motorists currently park irresponsibly on pavements , in disabled bays , and in the case of parking for flats in residents clearly marked and numbered bays . Regulated clamping is a necessary service and issuing tickets is ineffective . Ticketing has been tried by some respectable clamping firms and it simply financially unviable and it does not provide a deterrent . The cost of gating flat car parks is prohibitive and will also cause traffic hold ups while the entering vehicle awaits the opening of the gates particularly in roads which have many blocks of flats . Also what about blocks of flats with parking in seaside towns or near public houses , or where street parking is expensive or difficult .

Regulate clampers by all means but they provide a very necessary service to control car parking in car parks of blocks of flats particularly where these are located in town centres , in seaside towns , near public houses etc .

I still haven’t read anything on here – defending motorists for using private land for – in my mind at least – ILLEGAL parking at the private owners expense – causing inconvenience to the private owner. Why Not!!! ??

Jesper says:
20 August 2010

If all forms of clamping and towing is banned, how do we deal with motorists who park on other people’s property and blocking access to it and other people’s cars and/or garages?
I fear the total ban will leave frustrated land/garage-owners with no options and a vigilante culture will start emerging, where illegally parked cars will start to get partly vandalized – this then spills into the public space, as people start accepting these methods having no other alternatives.
The Police is not interested in – and do not have the resources – dealing with illegally parked cars on private land, so when you find a car parked in front of your garage, when you need to use your own car; then what do you do?
Our development is open – we don’t want to live in Fort Knox – but need to deal with illicitly parked vehicles in visitor spaces and in front of resident’s garages, as we are in the middle of Manchester. Currently a private clamping firm deals with this that can remove illicitly parked cars so residents can access their own property, when they need and want to do so. What do we do after a ban?

If any private means of dealing with illicitly parked vehicles on private land is removed, then the act of parking a car on private land needs to be made a public offence, so the police can get involved.

Very surprised that there’s only eighteen correspondents and the majority are supportive of clamping. Does this mean that most of us are simply happy to see this practice come to an end and are quietly rejoicing over our morning cuppa?

This is tentative, because I’m not sure of my facts, but… correct me if I’m wrong…isn’t it the case that no one, police, traffic wardens included, can issue a fine and then actually collect the money directly from the person so penalised? Police can detain vehicles for a number of reasons, but no one else is allowed to actually prevent the driver from using his/her own car and no one, police included, can give back the car on the spot because the driver gets his wallet out and passes money over. The government, councils and other bodies decide, democratically, what penalty to impose for any given offence. There is usually a method of appeal within this process. Fines are paid at a public office where accountable people record the payment. It’s all transparent and official.

Clampers disable property that does not belong to them and prevent its lawful use.. They unilaterally decide what they will ask for its release and they collect this money directly and immediately without regard to any consequence that this might have. There is no appeal. Why should they have this right when no one else is above the law and its due process? Some actually go further and deliberately set out to extort money, lying in wait for victims as a spider might for his dinner. These folk are what has triggered the government to act.

On the other side of the coin are the selfish motorists who park where they feel like and “‘to **** with the rest of you.” Of course there should be some redress for the harassed land owner. If they are troubled, they need large, prominent signs to indicate who may and may not park there. One would hope that they would draw a distinction between those who stop in a convenient space to sort the kids out in the back, answer the phone, check the tyres for a puncture or drop someone off, and those who park and disappear. Since we are now in a camera culture, what about a photograph of the offending vehicle, left unattended, and maybe another ten minutes later. That’s quicker and cheaper than putting on a clamp. These photos can be sent to a proper authority who issues the fine. Re-offenders are fined more. What about including these places within the remit of the local traffic warden, if they are in town? What about even giving the land owner permission to issue his own fines on the same forms that the council use with the same requirement (and fine) for the motorist to pay at the council office? You can probably pick holes in these suggestions, but there has got to be a better way of discouraging illegal parking than using a metal clamp. It just needs a little intelligence to find it, doesn’t it?

My point is – EXACTLY why should I go to all the trouble of trying to ‘collect’ fines when I find an illegal parker – parked on my land – stopping me from using the land for anything from 10 minutes to 10 hours – simply because someone “decides” to use my PRIVATE land as a “convenient” (to him) parking place.?

Remember I will have to do this – each and every time – I suffer illegal parking. It is a nonsense.

It is the illegal parker causing the offence in the first place – not I.

Mike says:
21 August 2010

Obviously you have not read the article regarding the clamping. It refers to private property/land. Police, traffic wardens, parking wardens all only work on public highways and public car parks hence the issue of tickets and fines from the council. Motorists who park on private land without the land owners permission are there illegally and are therefor trespassing. The majority of the time they totally ignore all signs and any form of note or ticketing leaving the property owner ( sometimes facing physical threats)no alternative but to resort to a registered clamping company. There is a process of appeal against fines but just takes a bit of time. A nuisance I know but at the end of the day the motorist should not have ignored the signs and should not take it for granted where he can and can not park.

Ian Sansom says:
21 August 2010

Is it the actual clamping that’s going to be outlawed or is it the extortion of money from those guilty of parking on private property?
Would it be an idea to still clamp the vehicle but to put up a notice saying it would be unclamped for free but that there would be a lengthy delay [say 4-6 hours] in locating the key?
Just a thought.

As I understand it – it is the actual clamping or towing – so you will not be able to clamp in any way – however much you are personally inconvenienced by inconsiderate motorists parking on your property.

As I suffer from this frequently as my land is very near restricted parking zones. I am somewhat annoyed by such people and totally disagree that ” It’s good news for all of us” that apparently any motorist can park wherever they like. Which is exactly what this ban on clamping will encourage.

The problem will be I will have to take each and every one to court and lose a day of work to get any form of recompense – certainly not a good idea for all.

I still have to wonder how these motorists can miss the idea that the land is private in the first place.

I live in a private development and clamping is the only successful deterent to avoid unwelcome and thoughtless parking contrary to our covenants. Stickers have no noticeable effect (although I’ve bought some to use) and legal action is so longwinded and expensive.