Wheel-clampers face cap on release fees

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The Independent Online

Wheel-clamping companies and car parks will face new limits on the penalties they can charge under government plans to drive rogue operators out of business.

Only firms that sign a code of practice would be able to access information on drivers held by the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency. Under the code, fees would be limited, private parking operators must prominently display signs setting out the rules and also release any vehicle from a clamp quickly. There would be a new duty to act "reasonably".

Some drivers have been charged £400 to reclaim their cars, despite only parking briefly on private land with little or no obvious signage. Another problem has been the difficulty of contacting some clamping companies, enabling them to rack-up storage fees.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The Home Secretary asked the Security Industry Authority to work up measures to deliver greater public confidence in this area and ministers are now considering the findings of the SIA feasibility study. We will shortly consult on our proposals, seeking people's views on the next steps we need to take to crack down on rogue clampers and ensure the industry meets the right standards."

The rules are expected to be based on the British Parking Association's code of practice. It sets a maximum fee of £125 for clamping, with £250 for removal and £35 a day for storage.