Cowboy clampers evade justice 14 Jun 2010

Motorists left stranded as clamping appeals service delayed

Drivers wrongly targeted by clampers on private land might have to wait at least another two years for an independent appeals service.

This is despite the law needed to introduce such a scheme having been passed before the general election and the Lib-Dem/Conservative coalition document stating ‘we will tackle rogue private sector wheel clampers’.

The establishment of an appeals panel for those wrongly penalised on private land was a key part of the Crime and Security Bill which received Royal assent on 8th April 2010.

But the RAC Foundation understands such a panel is unlikely to become reality before 2012 at the earliest. Even then it will not cover drivers who have been targeted by the increasing number of companies which are turning to the use of tickets.

A limited appeals service is currently being set up by the British Parking Association (BPA) which represents parking companies. Initially the scheme will include only a small number of its members. If the pilot is successful it will be extended to all members later next year, however not all parking companies have BPA membership.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“This will be a huge disappointment to frustrated motorists ripped off by unscrupulous parking enforcers. The nation’s 34 million drivers were led to believe an independent appeals service would follow hot on the heels of the legislation.

 “But even when such a service is established it will only cover clampers and not the increasing number of companies which are issuing tickets instead. We want the Government to provide an appeals service, a code of practice and a company registration scheme which cover all parking enforcement firms operating on private land. Why is this so difficult to do?

“We need urgent clarification from ministers as to how and when they are going to finally sort out this mess and make good the promises made to drivers. If action is to be taken more quickly than we understand, then great. But please let us know.”

ENDS

Contact:
Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation
020 7747 3486 / 07711 776448 / 020 7389 0601 (ISDN) / Philip.gomm@racfoundation.org

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a charity which explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and responsible road users. Independent and authoritative research, carried out for the public benefit, is central to the Foundation’s activities.

The Crime and Security Bill was introduced by the Labour Government but it had cross-party support and the new Secretary of State has himself vowed to end the war on motorists. A key passage in the Lib-Dem/Conservative coalition document says ‘we will tackle rogue private sector wheel clampers’.

The British Parking Association (BPA) is recognised by the Department for Transport as an Accredited Trade Association and as such its members are entitled to access the driver and vehicle registers held by the DVLA – for which they pay a fee – to pursue the owners of cars illegally parked on private land.

The BPA also runs a code of practice for its members, but the code is not enforceable in law and not all parking enforcement companies are members of the BPA.

The BPA is establishing a pilot appeals process which is due to start in the autumn. However the scheme will only involve a couple of parking companies. If the pilot is successful then the BPA will require all its parties to sign up to it.

The government is supporting the BPA’s trial but is not offering any financial assistance.

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