Cowboy wheel clampers will be outlawed from clamping vehicles on private land from tomorrow as new legislation comes into place.
The Protection of Freedoms Act makes it a criminal offence to clamp on private land in England and Wales, but not Northern Ireland. Clamping and towing away on private land has been banned in Scotland since 1992.
Other changes to vehicle laws include extending police powers to remove vehicles parked on private land to ensure landowners have a means to keep their land clear from obstructive or dangerously parked cars.
The Department for Transport is also strengthening laws around ticketing so that unpaid charges can be claimed from the keeper of the vehicle, as well as the driver.
The Government has agreed on an independent appeals service funded by the British Parking Association (BPA) that will allow motorists to appeal against a parking charge issued on private land by a company that is a member of the BPA's approved operator scheme.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach, the Home Office Minister responsible for changes to vehicle clamping law, said: "This common-sense ban will give motorists the protection they deserve against rogue wheel clamping and towing companies. It will save motorists £55 million each year in clamping charges and finally penalise the real criminals: the corrupt firms themselves."
Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said: "These new parking arrangements deliver a fairer legal framework for motorists and landowners, while getting rid of the indiscriminate clamping and towing by private companies for good."
But the AA and the BPA have warned that the new measures do not go far enough because they do not provide sufficient protection from rogue parking operators.
A BPA spokesman said the ban applies only on private land and even then, there are further exceptions where little known by-laws give landowners the right to manage their parking in any way they choose. These include car parks at railway stations, airports and port authorities.
Rogue operators may also turn their hand to bogus parking tickets on private land, an issue the AA also warned about.
BPA chief executive Patrick Troy said: "The Protection of Freedoms Act ushers in perhaps the most significant shake-up of the private parking industry ever seen in this country and there is much that we and the Government can be proud of.
"However, the regulations do not yet go far enough. An independent appeals service which is not binding on all operators is likely to be a recipe for confusion among motorists and a ban on clamping is no substitute for proper regulation of the industry.
"That being said, the new appeals service, such as it is, will provide a long-overdue layer of protection for motorists who want to know that they no longer have to look to the courts for recourse when they feel that a parking enforcement notice has been unfairly issued."
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