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Reforms cull clamping

Date: 19 July 2006

Clamping is set to be a thing of the past if Department for Transport draft guidelines are adopted. In the future local authorities will only resort to wheelclamping for persistent offenders who have failed to pay parking fines.

"The Government is determined to see a parking system that is fairer and more consistent," said transport secretary Douglas Alexander.

The guidelines follow intense criticisms from business and a 115-page report by the Commons transport committee that had MPs describing the present system as "inconsistent and confused". Committee chairman Gwyneth Dunwoody went even further by describing parking regulations in England as a "mess".

The DfT addresses many of the committee's parking gripes, setting out to improve parking signage and training, while clarifying the complicated and slow appeal processes against fines. The Government proposals also suggested introducing plans for a powerful watchdog to oversee parking enforcement.

Edmund King, RAC foundation boss, said: "Motorists will welcome restrictions on wheel clamping as the punishment rarely fits the crime. Clamping a car for over-staying a meter makes no sense, as the parking place is then blocked for a longer period. Clamping is a crude activity that should have been outlawed with Dick Turpin."

Last year, councils made an estimated £1.16bn from clamping almost double the revenues collected in 1997.

Camden council, North London are one of the first to bring an end to widespread clamping.