MP criticises 'extortionate' clamping feesHe proposes new law to tackle problem

07 March 2007

New measures are needed to stop car clamping firms charging 'extortionate' fees, MPs have been told.

Labour's David Wright (Telford) said some clampers 'frog-marched' motorists to cash machines to pay penalties for parking on private land.

Introducing his Private Parking (Regulation) Bill, he said: 'The problem is there's no clarity in the legislation about what kind of signage private clamping companies have to provide on sites before clamping is undertaken, there's no standardisation of the process.

'Secondly, the fees are an issue. At the moment it only states in the legislation that fees should be 'reasonable'.'

He said a BBC investigation in Birmingham saw an undercover reporter's car clamped 'almost immediately' and when she refused to pay the release fee she was 'left to make her own way home late at night'.

Aggressive clampers

One of his constituents was ordered to pay £350 to release his car and 'virtually frog-marched' to a cashpoint.

Mr Wright said his Bill would mean clamping companies have to inform councils about what signs they would use and would also give local authorities the power to set a range of acceptable fees.

He said: 'Clearly this may vary between different towns and cities, depending on the market and the scarcity of parking spaces, I think that is a local decision for the local authority.

'But I do think we have to look at a maximum level for these fees; £350 in cash, as far as I can see, is extortionate.'

Disabled parking

Mr Wright also called for supermarkets to enforce disabled parking bays to stop other shoppers using them.

He said an employee of the store can ask an able-bodied driver to move their car from a disabled space but they cannot legally insist on it.

He said: 'This Bill would require all owners of private car parks with disabled parking bays to have a clear written strategy on enforcement.'

Mr Wright said supermarkets and other private car parks are 'drinking in the last chance saloon' and need to act more effectively or Parliament would have to bring in 'more draconian' legislation.

The backbench Bill, which received an unopposed first reading, enjoys support from both Labour and Conservative MPs, but stands little chance of becoming law due to a lack of Parliamentary time.