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Labour bids to protect motorists from parking rip off

Leading motoring organisations are backing Labour’s attempts to fix serious flaws in the Government’s plans on wheel-clamping that could leave motorists open to exploitation.

Coalition Government plans to ban clamping on private land will be debated in the House of Commons later today (Monday 10 October) in the ‘Protection of Freedoms Bill’. The Government wants to replace wheel-clamping with a ticketing regime for parking management.

Labour’s Shadow Home Office Minister and Hull North MP Diana Johnson has tabled an amendment to the Government’s proposed legislation that would ensure that the process of issuing parking tickets is subject to tight regulation. Without this, Labour and leading motoring organisations such as the RAC and AA believe that excessive wheel-clamping practices will be replaced by rogue ticketing enforcement.

Labour’s amendment would ensure:

That the maximum fine for parking offences would be the same in private car parks as on public roads, much lower than the notorious fines that have been charged by private wheel-clamping firms, with the same prompt payment discounts.
All those issuing tickets would have to be licensed.
Tickets could only be issued where there were clear signs showing the parking rules.
Those receiving a parking ticket would get the right to appeal to an independent body.

Evidence from Scotland, where wheel-clamping on private land has been illegal since the 1990s, shows that banning only wheel- clamping does not stop motorists being intimidated and exploited by rogue parking enforcers.

Powers to stop the worst practices of private wheel-clampers have existed for the past 18 months after being put through Parliament by the previous Labour Government in the Crime and Security Act 2010, following full public consultation by the Home Office. This followed public outrage across the country at the practices employed against motorists by some private wheel clamping firms.

Diana Johnson MP said: “After 18 wasted months of failing to stop rogue wheel-clamping practices, using existing legislation from the previous Government, motorists will be moved out of the frying pan and into the fire under these Coalition plans.

“Those outfits engaged in rogue wheel-clamping clamping practices will be allowed to reappear as unlicensed parking ticket enforcers. The unlimited parking fines, entrapment and aggressive tactics will still happen, with no appeal mechanism, as leading motoring organisations have warned.

“Lib Dems, in particular, voted against the previous Labour Government’s action against rogue wheel-clampers, and once in government stopped it being implemented. Now, after a long delay, these superficially tough-sounding proposals on wheel-clamping in the Protection of Freedoms Bill would really just protect the freedom of rogue parking enforcers to exploit motorists.”