Page last updated at 15:27 GMT, Monday, 16 November 2009

'Curtail clampers' says charity

Clamped car
Private car clamping could soon be facing its own legal clampdown

Tighter regulation of car clamping firms has been called for by the charity Citizens Advice.

In the past three years its offices in England and Wales have seen a 52% increase in the annual number of enquires about parking problems.

It said these complaints, mainly about clampers, rose from 8,514 in 2005-06 to 12,910 in 2008-09.

The Queen's Speech this Wednesday is expected to outline legislation to control car clamping firms.

David Harker, Citizens Advice chief executive, called for action to swing the balance of power away from car clamping companies.

"There is a serious imbalance of power between car owners and private parking companies," he said.

"The objective of those who demand payment seems to be to make money, not to ensure fair parking.

"Furthermore there is currently no right for consumers to appeal [against] fines or seek redress," he added.

Complaints

Both the AA and RAC have called in the past few months for stricter regulation of private clamping firms.

Their activities are illegal in Scotland, and in Northern Ireland they can only clamp vehicles that are unlicensed.

However, in the rest of the UK, only the enforcement of parking restrictions on public roads and council car parks is regulated by law.

CAB said people had complained to it about badly written or situated warning signs, excessive extra charges, delays in releasing a vehicle, problems working out if a car clamper was legitimate or not, and the absence of a complaints or appeal procedure.

The charity said it wanted the current regulator, the Security Industry Association (SIA) to have the power to deal with firms that acted unfairly, including the power to order the return of money if people had been overcharged.



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