Page last updated at 02:18 GMT, Monday, 28 December 2009

RAC warns over number of licensed wheel clampers

Car with wheel clamp
The RAC Foundation says motorists should consider park-and-ride instead

The number of people with wheel clamping licences has risen since a consultation on reform of the industry began, the RAC Foundation has claimed.

More than 2,000 people hold licences, up from 1,200 in March 2008, and 200 more than when the government began consulting in April 2009.

The RAC Foundation blames "lax" laws for more people becoming clampers.

The Home Office has said it will introduce a compulsory licensing scheme to tackle rogue operators.

The RAC Foundation is urging shoppers in the post-Christmas sales to be careful of where they leave their cars, and consider alternatives such as park-and-ride schemes instead.

Foundation director Prof Stephen Glaister said: "With charges for being clamped and towed often running into several hundred pounds, cowboy clampers will be out in force during the Christmas sales, on the lookout for motorists who leave their car in the wrong place even for a few minutes.

'Unfairly treated'

"The huge rise in licence holders proves the Government needs to act quickly. It has promised a cap on fees, an appeals service and a binding code of conduct. In 2010 it needs to deliver."

But a Home Office spokesperson insisted a compulsory licensing scheme for operators would leave clamping firms "in no doubt as to their responsibility to the public".

The spokesperson added: "Anyone breaching the strict code of practice risks losing their licence.

"Firms will have to ensure signage is clear, fines are proportionate and towing practices are regulated.

"We are also working to introduce an independent appeals process for motorists who feel they have been unfairly treated."

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