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Clampdown on clampers

Date: 05 February 2010

Wheel clampers, whose release and removal charges have risen to almost £400 according to the AA, can now be challenged at independent tribunals.

Government legislation means that motorists who become victims to profiteering clampers will be entitled to claim compensation under an amendment to the Crime and Security Bill, currently going through Parliament.

It should lead to a compulsory licensing scheme for all clamping operators and a release fee ceiling of slightly more than the £70 maximum levied by local authorities. Motorists will be entitled to a refund of figures above that.

Clamping companies will also have to ensure that signs warning of the threat of being clamped meet minimum visibility standards. If drivers convince the tribunal that they were unfairly clamped they will be able to demand compensation for related costs, including taxi fares or car hire.

Firms refusing to pay compensation via civil courts face losing their operating licence. Edmond King, AA president, warned that if the new regulations are not effective then clamping on private land should be outlawed as it is in Scotland.

Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "The licence to print money, which many cowboy clampers believe they have, seems about to revoked. Wheel clamping has been described in Parliament as something akin to 'legalised extortion'."