Private parking companies are pushing to enact laws that would allow them to clamp and tow vehicles, a new report found.
In the submission of a consultation on a code of conduct for private parking enforcement, there were dozens of companies advocating for terminal return, and many demanded this as a top priority because fines do not deter motorists enough.
Edmund King, AA president, said the practice of trapping vehicles “cannot return under any circumstances” and that the government should “stop rogue firms quickly and forcefully.”
Are cowboy clamps coming back? An AA investigation has found that parking enforcement firms are trying to get the government to reintroduce laws that allow them to trap and tow cars in private lot parking garages
The government banned the trapping, towing, blocking or immobilization of vehicles without legal authority on private property under the Protection of Freedoms Act in 2012.
MPs’ measures to end abuses by rogue clip-in companies preying on motorists by charging excessive release fees.
If clamps break the law, they can currently face an unlimited fine in the Crown Court or up to £ 5,000 in a Magistrates Court.
According to an investigation by the AA’s Vehicle Policy Unit, private parking companies are joining forces to have these rules overturned.
The Ministry of Housing, Neighborhoods and Local Government (MHCLG) has launched a consultation on certain aspects of a draft code of practice intended to regulate industry.
However, the British Standards Institution (BSI) has held a separate consultation on the content of this draft code.
Responses to the latter have now been removed from public opinion, following the end of the submissions period, but the intent of some of the private parking industry had become very clear.
In the feedback on the BSI documents, private parking companies called for trapping and towing vehicles to return because the allegations were not enough to deter offenders.
Some made these comments as their first response to the consultation, adding their recommendations to the comments for both the foreword and the introduction to the draft document.
Other recommendations from private parking companies also called for dropping appeals for drivers who had not updated their address details with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.
This would mean that drivers who make an honest mistake or move to a new home at the time of the incident would not be eligible for the new appeal process.
After long-running campaigns against vehicle clamping companies, the practice was banned on private property in October 2012.
However, some locations, such as train station parking lots or airports, can still be jammed due to lengthy regulations.
Laws were enacted by MPs in October 2012 to end abuse by rogue clip-in companies hunting motorists by charging excessive release fees
Outraged by the findings, the AA drew attention to the comments to MHCLG, asking for assurances that clamps will not return under any circumstances and that pre-existing regulations will be deleted to ban the practice completely.
Edmund King, AA president said: “Clamping is a disgusting practice that we thought was long gone, but it is clear that some parking companies’ intent never faded.
Edmund King, AA president, said the practice of clamping vehicles ‘cannot recur under any circumstances’
‘Cowboy clamps want to tie the cars back up.
Horror stories from days gone by of enforcers asking for gold teeth instead of payment, clutching a hearse with the corpse in its back, holding a young child hostage until usury payments, and other nefarious acts could be just around the corner.
‘This now brings us to a duel at High Noon.
‘Clamps cannot return under any circumstances. The government has the chance to stop rogue firms. We hope they do that quickly and forcefully.
“We also need a simplified and transparent private parking system with a completely independent professional service, so there is no chance that cowboy parking companies will act as judge and jury.”
The AA investigation has come to light in the shadow of reports that parking lot operators are ramping up the installation of cameras with automatic license plate recognition to enforce their restrictions.
According to research from Churchill Car Insurance published earlier this month, the number of building applications to install ANPR cameras in parking garages has risen 61 percent in just two years.
They can now often be found in supermarkets, shopping centers, fast food restaurants, hospitals and transportation hubs such as train stations.
ANPR cameras have sparked a lot of discussion as in some cases drivers have been automatically given tickets if they say they have not exceeded the parking space time limit, are penalized if they use the same parking space more than once a day or if drivers don’t did. I don’t know there was a time limit for free parking.
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