One-woman vigil alerts shoppers to wheel-clamps

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The Independent Online
EVERY Saturday Valerie Coombes mounts a lonely vigil at a local car-park to warn shoppers that it could cost them pounds 135 if they park without a permit. She has been so successful in turning people away the wheel-clamping company that patrols the car-park says she is losing it business and is taking her to court.

Mrs Coombes, 51, estimates that she has cost the company, Clearway Parking Ltd, pounds 10,000 in lost penalties since she started to patrol behind the Cannon cinema in the centre of Romford, Essex.

Her campaign started after her son parked her Nissan Micra there one Saturday in August. The car was towed away and she was not able to get it back until the following Monday when she had to pay pounds 135.

Gary Taylor, a director of Clearway Parking, says her campaign has gone too far. 'She cost us about pounds 2,000 in clamping fees but that is not the point. We don't make money from clamping and removals,' he said. 'Mrs Coombes is turning away bonafide customers who want to go to the cinema and are entitled to park there for pounds 1.'

So this week Mr Taylor's solicitors sent a letter to Mrs Coombes accusing her of blatantly malicious behaviour. She was informed that if she continued with her vigil an injunction would be taken out against her and that the company would seek an award of exemplary damages for the losses it is suffering.

Mrs Coombes said: 'It's been a long haul since August. There was no need to tow my car away. It has made me so angry I feel I must keep going.'