Government cracks down on rogue parking firms

Rogue parking firms that clamp cars for minor offences and charge motorists extortionate rates to have their vehicles released are to be forced to comply with strict rules as part of a Government assault

Car clamping has become an increasingly lucrative industry in Britain, and it is believed around one in 10 motorists in Britain have fallen prey to a private clamping firm. Examples have included one woman who had her car impounded while the engine was still running. Some motorists have been charged more than £100 for minor parking offences such as straying slightly outside parking lines.

In the past, anyone wanting to inflict misery on motorists could simply set up a business, pay landowners to guard their land and begin hunting down unsuspecting drivers. They were able to charge motorists by obtaining their details from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). But new rules announced yesterday will mean that only parking firms that sign up to an officially approved trade association and agree to abide by a strict code of conduct will be given access to the information held by the DVLA.

Kelvin Reynolds, technical director of the British Parking Association (BPA), the only recognised trade association for clampers, said the rule change was welcome. “The Government has closed a loophole that allowed unscrupulous parking operators to continue to function,” he said. “Now everyone in private parking enforcement will be required to work to a code of practice. This is a good first step towards better regulation and increased fairness for everyone.”

However, the BPA said that it would not blacklist any firms that were found to have broken its code of conduct, but would rather “work with members through a disciplinary process to get them to improve”. It led motoring groups to warn that the reforms did not go anywhere near far enough in curbing the actions of private paring firms and demanded a blanket ban on clamping in private land. “Even if a parking company is a member of an accredited association this does not mean that they will abide by their codes or indeed be disciplined if they do not,” said Edmund King, president of the AA.

“We have a dossier of cases where accredited companies do not adhere to their code and no action has been taken. The whole private parking enforcement system is out of control and requires urgent action. Perhaps now is the time to stop trying to patch up a failing system and take bold steps as they did in Scotland to outlaw clamping on private land.”

Sadiq Khan, a transport minister, said the move was just the first blow in the fight back against cowboy clampers. Ministers are considering the introduction of a compulsory licensing system that would see the Security Industry Authority, which already regulates the private security industry, given powers to hold parking firms to account. Fixed rules setting out the level of fines, the reasons for clamping vehicles and the display of warning signs for motorists could be introduced later this year. Drivers are also likely to be given a guaranteed right to challenge fines.

“Where drivers break legitimate conditions set by landowners, then it is right that penalties are applied. But we will not tolerate unscrupulous firms breaking the law by overcharging or intimidating motorists,” Mr Khan said. “We will be publishing later this year a cross-Government action plan which will help us to protect motorists and put a stop to the unacceptable behaviour of cowboy clampers and rogue parking firms.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own