Wheel-clamping on private land banned

A wheel clamped car The government says the new legislation will save motorists £55m a year in clamping charges

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Wheel-clampers have been outlawed from clamping vehicles on private land under new legislation in England and Wales.

The Protection of Freedoms Act makes it an offence to clamp on private land.

The law does not affect Northern Ireland, and clamping and towing away on private land has been banned in Scotland since 1992.

But landowners are boosted by stronger laws on ticketing, which mean unpaid charges can be claimed from the keeper of the vehicle, as well as the driver.

And the government has also agreed on an independent appeals service funded by the British Parking Association (BPA).

This will allow motorists to appeal against a parking charge issued on private land by a company that is a member of the BPA's approved operator scheme.

Start Quote

An independent appeals service which is not binding on all operators is likely to be a recipe for confusion among motorists”

End Quote Patrick Troy British Parking Association

Lord Taylor of Holbeach, the Home Office minister responsible for changes to vehicle clamping law, said: "This common-sense ban will give motorists the protection they deserve against rogue wheel-clamping and towing companies.

"It will save motorists £55m each year in clamping charges and finally penalise the real criminals - the corrupt firms themselves."

Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said: "These new parking arrangements deliver a fairer legal framework for motorists and landowners, while getting rid of the indiscriminate clamping and towing by private companies for good."

By-law loophole

But the AA and the BPA have both said the new measures do not go far enough, expressing concern over a lack of protection from rogue parking operators.

New wheel clamping laws

  • Motorists whose vehicles are illegally clamped on private land can now call the police
  • The government says about 500,000 clampings took place annually on private land, with an average release fee of £112 and almost all clamp fees were paid
  • Ban also applies to towing away and blocking in
  • Anyone who clamps a vehicle or tows it away on private land without specific lawful authority to do so may face criminal proceedings
  • Lawful authority to clamp or tow vehicles will remain for various organisations and public bodies - eg DVLA will retain legal authority to clamp or tow away vehicles that evade vehicle excise duty

A BPA spokesman also said there may be continuing issues for motorists because of little known by-laws giving landowners the right to manage their parking in any way they choose. These include some car parks at railway stations, airports and port authorities.

And the AA has concerns that rogue operators may begin issuing bogus parking tickets on private land.

BPA chief executive Patrick Troy said: "The Protection of Freedoms Act ushers in perhaps the most significant shake-up of the private parking industry ever seen in this country and there is much that we and the government can be proud of.

"However, the regulations do not yet go far enough. An independent appeals service which is not binding on all operators is likely to be a recipe for confusion among motorists and a ban on clamping is no substitute for proper regulation of the industry.

"That being said, the new appeals service, such as it is, will provide a long-overdue layer of protection for motorists who want to know that they no longer have to look to the courts for recourse when they feel that a parking enforcement notice has been unfairly issued."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    As an owner of a small restaurant with car park - I am now very worried. This poorly thought through law now opens up my car park to anyone who wants to use it. I now have no control over my own property other than issue parking charges that won't be paid. The thought of being clamped or blocked was a good deterrent. I have never exploited people, and only want to protect my property and business.

  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    This is daft. There has to be a real and instant penalty to those that steal the use of other people's land. Car drivers do not own every space they can get onto. Stop pandering to the selfish part of car drivers, their bad attitude is likely to be reflected in their car use in all ways too. Remove licences of illegal parkers or points as part of the fee.

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    Motorists are seen as fair game by everyone. The number of places to park free of charge or near the place you want to go have dramatically reduced. I'd love to get rid of my car and use public transport, but until it is reliable, quick and reasonably priced I think it's fair to say that most people aren't going to use it. Being clamped/ticketed by these firms is all about them making money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    What about people like myself. Flat owner with private parking downstairs, which I own leasehold of the space. I am forever not being able to park there as ignorant people decide to ignore the private parking sign. The only deterant I have had is the threat of clamping.....how do I now keep ignorant people from illegally parking on my land/parking space now!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    I've always found the use of clamps utterly bizarre - you don't want the car parked where it is so you attach something which means that the car can't be moved, thereby ensuring that the offence is sustained. Surely for the cost of having someone patrol your parking spaces and attaching clamps, collecting fines etc, you could just install a retractable metal bollard?


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