End of the road for clampers
8:40am Wednesday 19th September 2012 in Latest News
A DOSSIER of despicable acts by cowboy clampers has been released by the AA two weeks before legislation comes into force outlawing the practice on private land.
Swindon Council has given a cautious welcome to the new law, to be introduced on October 1 in England and Wales, saying it would help consumers.
The AA report includes how clampers in Doncaster threatening to take a three-year-old girl hostage unless her mum paid what amounted to a ransom.
Other horror stories include a hearse with a body in the coffin being immobilised on the way to a funeral, and clampers demanding sexual favours in lieu of cash.
The practice has also been sharply criticised in Swindon.
Companies under the spotlight include Premier Parking Services Ltd, which featured in the Adver in 2008 when it clamped a disabled man’s car, which had been parked for four minutes.
A1 Parking featured in 2005 when it immobilised a man’s car as he made his way to buy medicine and threatened to charge him £15 an hour until he paid to release the vehicle.
Neither company commented at the time and Premier did not respond when the Adver revealed in June that some of its signs in the town may be void.
Carla Baker, Swindon Council’s senior community advice and education officer, said: “The concern about clamping is it can put people in a vulnerable situation and they often feel they have no choice but to pay, even if they have a valid complaint.
“We don’t like anything that puts consumers in a vulnerable position or a weak position where they can’t make a genuine complaint or argument about their rights.
“Anything that gives consumers a chance to deal with things in a less hurried way without feeling vulnerable or threatened, we would approve of.”
Edmund King, AA president, said: “We are delighted that cowboy clampers will have to hang up their clamps in a fortnight.
“This campaign had become a personal crusade for me over the last decade.
“The outright ban on wheel clamping on private land is a victory for justice and common sense.
“We have been campaigning for a ban against this legalised mugging for many years.
“Too many clampers have been acting like modern day highwaymen for too long.
“Many elderly and vulnerable people have been ripped off by these callous cowboys.
Clamping has been banned in Scotland since 1992 without problems.
“We have advised numerous people over the years about what to do when clamped. There seemed to be a spate of Friday nights when I would get calls from pensioners who had been clamped.
“We have noticed that some of the cowboys are cashing in before they are finally outlawed, so we advise drivers to be vigilant over the next two weeks.”