Action on private clamping companies at last?Compulsory licensing scheme for private clampers

23 November 2009

Clamping companies are breaking the law, the RAC said

New law aims to limit the charges levied by private clamping companies

So-called ‘cowboy clampers’ may be brought to task under new legislation promised by the latest Queen’s speech.

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A new Crime and Security Bill, announced in the Queen’s speech, would introduce compulsory licensing for wheel-clamping businesses, as well as a wide range of other measures.

The new legislation will aim to resolve the three main areas of complaint typically made by the ‘victims’ of clamping companies operating on private land.

Independent appeals process

By enforcing a compulsory licensing scheme, the Government hopes to impose limits on the size of fines issued by clamping companies, better regulate the towing of parked vehicles and, perhaps most significantly, establish an effective, independent appeals process.

Currently the clamping industry relies on a voluntary code - the British Parking Association's Approved Operator Scheme - but this often goes unenforced according to independent motoring organisations, including the AA.

The AA and the RAC have both welcomed the announcement.

Lawless area

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘Motorists everywhere will be relieved to finally hear of the government's commitment to tackle the menace of cowboy clampers.

‘It seems ministers have at last listened to the hundreds of thousands of drivers who have been fleeced by rogue operators. It is critical that the bill be published quickly and put before parliament before a general election, so public confidence in this essentially lawless area can be restored.’

AA President Edmund King, already a campaigner on this subject, agreed that the announcement was ‘a step in the right direction’. But he also warned that ‘this really is the last chance to get this problem sorted out.’

Further action necessary

In Scotland, clamping on private land has been outlawed since 1992; according to King this should be the next step for England and Wales if the proposed Bill fails to resolve the current difficulties.

There are no guarantees that the measures proposed in the new Crime and Security Bill will become law, and certainly action on clamping is unlikely until some time in 2010.

In the meantime, Glaister is urging car owners to pay particular attention to where they park: ‘Unscrupulous clampers are likely to be out in force to try and make as much money as they can before they are driven out of business by the new rules.’


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