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According to Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone, it is a bid to tackle rogue operators who exploit drivers by charging “exorbitant fees”. With previous attempts to curb the activity of dishonest wheel clampers failing up until now, the government has decided to follow in the footsteps of Scotland who introduced a successful ban almost twenty years ago.
It will now be illegal for anyone to clamp, tow away or immobilise a vehicle without lawful authority to do so, which in effect will ban most clamping and towing by anyone other than the police, local authorities, government agencies such as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) – plus other bodies acting in accordance with statutory or other powers, such as railway stations and airports.
It has been reported that private wheel clamping is worth around £1 billion pounds a year, but for a long time motorists have expressed that they are very unhappy with the way that parking enforcement companies have cashed in on unsuspecting drivers whose best cars have been clamped and in some cases even towed away.
Lynne Featherstone, the equalities and criminal information minister, said: “Even though we have tried to make this work by licensing individuals, companies who are responsible for the setting of the fees and the putting of signage have not really responded.” She added: “We keep trying to make this work but it doesn’t.”
Although private firms will be banned from clamping or towing vehicles, they will still be able to ticket parked cars, whilst landowners will be able to install barriers to prevent parking where necessary. Motoring organisations have welcomed the move with the AA describing clamping as a “draconian punishment” which has “caused misery to motorists for often minor mistakes”.
“An outright ban on wheel clamping on private land is a victory for justice and common sense,” the AA president, Edmund King, said.”We have been campaigning for a ban against this legalised mugging for many years. Too many clampers have been acting like modern-day highwaymen for too long.”
It is hoped that this new measure will prevent motorists from the fear that their car will be towed away for the wrong reasons. It will also give the correct authorities the right to stamp down more heavily on rogue drivers who are simply not abiding to the rules in place.