Private Clampers Must be Regulated

AA Ireland is making a presentation to the Oireachtas Committee on Transport today on the subject of clamping. No one likes being clamped. Nearly 7% of AA members have been clamped within the last year and 2/3 of those felt the circumstances were harsh. At the same time it is effective in controlling illegal parking and that too can be a scourge especially for residents and businesses as many AA members also point out.

When you are clamped by a local authority there is at least a democratic entity setting the rules and a proper appeals mechanism. When a private clamper gets you it often feels like you are the victim of kangaroo justice. This became a major problem in the UK and while the practice in Ireland involves far better people behaving in a far better way it is still undemocratic, arbitrary and frequently unfair. It cannot continue the way it is. It must be regulated and controlled with proper rules, codes of practice and appeals mechanisms in place.

This point came through clearly when we asked participants in the latest AA Motorists’ Panel Survey for their views on the subject last week.

AA Ireland has made this point before. We made a submission to the Department of Transport on the issue back in 2009 and included our proposals for proper regulation. That did not come about under the previous government and we raised the issue with Minister Varadkar again recently. We hope that this investigation by the Oireachtas Committee on Transport* is a sign that the matter will finally be addressed.

Statement from AA Ireland to Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht

14th February 2012

AA Ireland

AA Ireland has grown from being Ireland’s premier motoring organisation into one of its leading Consumer services businesses. We provide emergency rescue for people in the Home and on the road, as well as providing insurance for over 200,000 Irish customers. We specialise in Home, Motor and Travel Insurance, and we attend in the region of 140,000 car break downs every year, 80% of which are fixed on-the-spot.

The AA puts information into the consumer’s hands. Our AA Roadwatch service provides up to the minute traffic and travel data through live broadcasts, online and social media. Our website is packed with consumer information about the Home, the Car and Travel matters. Our online RoutePlanner provides over 12 million detailed routes per year for Irish users. 

The AA is also a campaigning organisation. From our heritage representing motorists to our 21st century role, the AA researches consumer needs and champions those needs. The AA employs 480 people across Ireland in its growing team. 

Introduction:

Clamping is not popular. Motorists as a rule find the experience to be unpleasant as well as expensive and there is a tendency for people to feel aggrieved when their vehicle is clamped. In a survey of 19,000 Irish motorists conducted by AA Ireland in February of 2012, 6.8% of respondents reported that they had been clamped within the last 12 months. Of those 27.4% felt that the circumstances were somewhat unfair and 48% felt that the circumstances were very unfair. Only 19.7% felt that the circumstances were fair. More detail on the results of the AA poll, including a representative sample of 100 comments and anecdotes received, is provided in the appendix to this submission.

At the same time there is a high degree of acceptance. In Dublin City approximately 58,000 ‘enforcement events’ (clamps or tow-aways) take place every year. Of that number less than 5% are appealed. Of that number approximately 1/3 are accepted; in many other cases the appeal is rejected but a good-will payment is made.

While many motorists would prefer that clamping was not carried out at all there is also the important point that it undoubtedly assists with ensuring parking compliance. Prior to its introduction in the capital in 1998* the problem of illegal parking was endemic. Businesses and residents complained that parking simply was not available as citizens in large volumes ignored parking regulations. This presented a major problem especially for traders in the city whose customers could not access parking during the day while metered spaces were filled with commuters.

* Clamping of vehicles is authorised by the Road Traffic (Immobilisation Of Vehicles) Regulations, 1998

Two distinct forms of clamping

Clamping takes place in two very different ways: local authority enforcement of parking regulations, and private enforcement of parking events on private land.

Local authority clamping

The largest local authority that engages in clamping is Dublin City Council. Clamping is carried out on their behalf by Dublin Street Parking Services. The cost of carrying out the contract is €9 million per year whereas revenue from clamping is just over half that amount. In theory this means that clamping costs money. It has been wrongly suggested that the ‘break-even’ price point would be €150. This would be totally unacceptable in the AA’s view as it would be completely out of proportion to the offence committed. If a speeding offence results in an €80 fine it would be absurd to apply a €150 charge to over-staying at a parking meter.

It is simply not true to say that clamping as operated by the local authority in Dublin or up until recently in Cork operated at a loss. It only appears that way when you only look at part of the numbers.

Assessed more holistically clamping raises considerable revenue. Income from on-street parking by complaint motorists in Dublin is just less than €30 million per annum, a figure that would certainly be far lower in the absence of the deterrent effect of clamping.

Given the effectiveness of clamping in terms of ensuring that parking is available and that urban traffic flows smoothly it could be argued that it is something of a necessary evil. However this compares an effective clamping regime to the wholly ineffective and discredited system of parking tickets that existed prior to its introduction. How it would compare to an effective and well run ticketing regime may be a different matter.

Cork City Council recently decided to abandon clamping and return to a system of parking tickets (and tow-aways where necessary). Whether that proves to be more effective for the city long term remains to be seen and will be watched with interest especially by the authority in Dublin.

Because local authorities are democratically accountable, because an effective appeals system is in place, because the maintenance of revenue from paid-for parking is a key resource for the local authority and because control of illegal parking is essential for the smooth functioning and commercial life of an urban area:

The AA is willing to accept that the decision as to whether or not to use clamping as a means of enforcement of parking by-laws should remain the prerogative of the elected representatives of the local government.

Private clamping

Private clamping is carried out in many locations in Ireland. While private clamps are even less popular with motorists it does fulfil a particular need. It is entirely reasonable that locations like apartment complexes, sporting facilities and commercial premises should be entitled to ensure that they have access to their own parking spaces. Clamping can be simple, cheap and effective.

Local authorities themselves frequently use private clamping in locations like public housing where spaces need to be preserved for residents.

However just because a solution is simple and effective for one party does not mean that it is fair or reasonable. Private landowners and the clampers that they employ are frequently blind to this point. The AA also finds it unacceptable that private clampers and the landowners who are their clients present themselves as being of equal legitimacy with clamping that is carried out under the direction of the local authority. They are not.

Signs frequently mention a parking ‘fine’ for example. A fine is an amount of money paid as a penalty for a criminal or civil infraction and may only be imposed in accordance with the law. A car owner who parks on private land where there is an implied right of access, such as a car park, cannot be held to be in breach of the law. The motorist might be held to be at fault in a civil matter with respect to the limitations that the land-owner has declared for allowing access to his property; then again he might not and it could ultimately require a civil action to rule on the matter.

Whatever about the semantics of how private parking restrictions are displayed it remains the case that private parking penalties are imposed arbitrarily and without legal basis. The costs for de-clamping are also arbitrary.

The AA does have sympathy for business and residents who have invested in or paid for parking facilities for the use of residents or customers. It is not reasonable for others to occupy that private space for their own purposes, frustrating the legitimate owners as they do so. Private land owners are not able to use mechanisms like parking tickets or fines to control this behaviour and many would argue that without clamping their situation would be unmanageable.

Private clamping can be tolerated but MUST be regulated

However the AA has become concerned that leaving the practice unregulated means that there is no protection against rogue behaviour. This has become a serious problem in the UK where it is not uncommon for scenes of downright deception and intimidation to occur, and motorists have been charged sums like €500 for de-clamping. Spurious additional charges for ‘tow truck cancellation’ and other such pretexts happen all too often. Since 2005 the British government requires clampers to obtain a licence from the Security Industry Authority, but despite that improvement there are now plans for tighter regulation and enforcement.

Thankfully we have not yet developed the same problems as the UK but nor do we have even primary licencing in place. The AA is receiving a growing number of complaints about clamping and for the first time we are hearing stories comparable to some of the bad practices occurring more regularly in the UK.

Some private clamping operations, such as National Car Parking Services, provide their own appeals service in a structure which mirrors that provided by the local authority. This is operated in good faith but in a legal vacuum. While it is a welcome attempt by the responsible industry to self-regulate it is inherently unsatisfactory and it has no legal basis.

Even though Ireland has a better industry employing better people than the very low standards that have crept into practice in the UK it is still unacceptable in the AA’s view. In effect private clampers operate a form of kangaroo justice: both punishment and process are made up privately, and even when it exists the only form of appeal rests with the same entity that set the sanction and carried out the punishment. The same private entities have become rule-makers, enforcers, judges and redress mechanism rolled into one, and are conflicted by the fact that they profit financially from the punishment applied. This should not be tolerated even when applied responsibly and with good will (which the AA accepts is the case). 

The AA recommends that those operating in the industry be compelled to hold to certain standards, which in our view should include the following:

 1                    Private clamping should only be permitted under licence from the local authority.

 2                    Clamping personnel should display clear ID, as is now required by private security personnel since 1st September 2009.

3                    The permitted fee should be pegged to the fee charged by the local authority in the same area. In the event that the particular local authority does not operate a clamping system, the fee should be pegged to the average national charge for local-authority controlled clamping schemes. A private clamp fee should be no higher than a public one.

 

4                    There should be a clear structure for complaint or appeal. Private clampers should be brought under the auspices of the parking appeals system of the relevant local authority where applicable, or of the Dublin City Council clamping appeals process where a local authority does not have one of its own. The DCC appeal system has been working effectively and can accommodate the additional volumes. The experience with respect of local authority clamping schemes is that numbers of appeals are small.

The AA urges the Committee to study this issue with care and to recommend a solution. This has not yet become as serious an issue here as it has in the UK but intervention now would be timely and would put the legitimate business and its legitimate customers on a more secure footing.

AA Public Policy Department

14th February 2012

  1. Sunday evening, at Mill hse theatre Dundrum, parked on loading area , clamped and car removed along with a few others. No details left of where car taken, eventually went to garda station locally…who were able to give details

 

  1. In a private industrial estate in Waterford while I was in work looking for compassionate leave following the sudden death of a close relative. Happened within a 10 minute interval. Clamper didn’t give a “toss” Appealed the fee and was refunded, Overall very bad experience.

 

  1. Car was clamped and moved but there was nothing to say that it had been moved. For a good while I assumed the car had been stolen. This is a very poor practice on the part of the clamper

 

  1. i was very angry as i had not seen the clamping sign up as it was obscured by a lorry. i was in what i thought was a private residents parking area visiting a friend. Extortionate fee (120e) and grumpy man in a van to declamp. Clamping should not be contracted out to private “cowboys”

 

  1. At the train station. I was late, bought the ticket, threw it on the dash, and ran for the train. Apparently when I shut the door, it flew off the dash and between the seats. When I came back, it was clamped. They made me pay to unclamp it, even when I showed the ticket was there. It meant no heating or groceries that week.

 

  1. The price of getting your car un clamped should be monitered as companys have people sitting in car parks just waiting for the exact time to be up in order to clamp. This is so wrong. I have seen this happen. Why is there no set price for clamping?

 

  1. I was clamped by NCPS while buying a cup of coffee. I was then assaulted by the Clamper. The matter is currently being investigated by the Gardai.

 

  1. As a visitor to an appartment complex, I parked in a visitor parking spot. I was clamped for not sending a text to someone to tell them that I was a visitor. The sign to tell you this was facing away from the car park. As a result of this neither of my parents can visit my sister, who lost her voice because of cancer, as neither of them can text on a mobile phone. They are both in their 70’s.

 

  1. I wasn’t aware of any clamping procedure in the area – wrongly marked – petrol-station parking! My appeal was dismissed and sadly, markings weren’t corrected to date

 

10.  On Hatch St. Lr., I had paid for and had two valid tickets displayed to cover the amount of time I was to be parked – on the advice of a Warden I approached for assistance, I printed a second ticket as the first ticket I printed was not sufficient to cover the time I would be away and it was not feasible for me to return at the expiry of the first ticket. I displayed both tickets side by side and when I came back with 5 mins to spare I was clamped. When I called the ‘de-clampers’ I discovered that it was the same guy who told me to display the second ticket and they had been parked further up the street. He wouldn’t engage with me to discuss the matter and told me I had to pay €80 or remain clamped. as it is an automated service I was unable to discuss the matter with anyone and had no choice but to pay the charge. Not happy!

11.  I was two minutes late back to the carpark, came back to find the clamper attaching the clamp to the car, pleaded with him to show humanity. Wasted effort. Cast some bad karma his way and hope he gets caught speeding ever week for the rest of his days!

12.  Booterstown Dart where the sign was painted on the ground and was worn and not possible to see cost €120 appealed fine to no avail

13.  I was clamped while visiting Dublin. I parked under the sign that said you had to pay-and-display until 7pm. It was 7.05. I had not seen the sign 20 feet down that said bus only parking after 7pm. Was at a concert in the Aviva Stadium. 15 other cars were clamped too. Easy money for Dublin City Council.

14.  Clamped within a gated apartment block, while parked in a non-obstructive manner, closest to the apartment door so as to get a baby inside quickly during heavy rain. Clamp applied within 5 mins by very efficient parking services and cost €100 to release.

15.  where I live by the Management Company, its a constant issue and very irritating, in all 3 cases I was reimburshed the fee but had to pay it to get it realeased and they made me late and very stressed out, I was late for my first Doctors appointment whilst pregnant over being clamped by mistake

16.  I work in Sir John Rogersons Quay where there are 2 streets where metre parking is not applicable and the clampers consistently clamp the cars here. There is no consistency with them and there is no reasoning with them or Dublin City Council. 80 each time – its disgraceful!

17.  Clampers should be regulated. They can charge whatever fee they like, they deliberately work to catch people out, they are rude, unprofessional, and there has to be an alternative. I’ve parked in places, found the machine out of order, and had to move my car and be late, as I don’t trust clampers to recognise that a ticket could not be bought. They inspire fear literally, and it’s totally wrong. Who can afford up to EU100 just for mis-parking accidentally? I would go out of my way to avoid any contact of any kind with a member of that group (wouldn’t call them a profession). I am appalled that county councils and shopping centres or car park owners feel they have to employ this militant type of group to look after their parking interests? I could keep going…

18.  nightmare. at booterstown dart station the clamped everyone gone to the Ireland football match. signs were not very visible particularly when in a rush. was a cold night and they make everyone wait about 2 hours in the cold before they came

19.  It had a big sign saying “P” to park, then on the smallest sign on a post it said vehicles well be clamped. As a prospective student at Maynooth to park in the professors car park was not the wisest move as you can imagine.

20.  daily tickets at Irish rail are 24 hours – decided to have a drink after work on Friday so left car at car park. clampers were up clamping at 8 the next morning catching all the people who were sensible leaving the car instead of drink driving!!

21.  Clamped in Blanch.Hosp grounds. I was 15 mins overtime on my ticket. I had left my appointment, and was asked to help in a survey. They told me it would only take 5 mins (just like this survey lol!), predictably it took longer – and when I came out, a yellow wheel and a lovely sticker was plastered across my driver side window. 15 minutes overtime! Ok, so my fault for being over but I feel that the clampers are waiting around like vultures ready to strike, very little leeway…

22.  I was clamped on a Sunday at a railway station car park. I had assumed it was free and was really surprised to find the car clamped when I returned from a nice day out. I was so disappointed as I thought I was being environmentally friendly by leaving my car behind. My car was also scrached by the clamp, but the clampwer just dismissed my claim although I had photographic evidence.

23.  My front wheel was 2 inches into yellow box in a loading bay. I drive a small van. The loading bay was full of private cars and there was little space. The incident happened on a private road.

24.  The whole loading area was free and the swift nature in which the car was taken was not right. They should have had a time limit to see how long the car remained there. I would not have minded paying a fine but to get a taxi and then to pay the free was not right. Clamping is a money making racket.

25.  it was a side street and 3 others were clamped and didn’t realise it was a no parking zone until midnight. They were older people and very distraught, 80euros is a lot for an old person for what was a minor parking infringement which was poorly signposted.

26.  I hadnt been clamped in 7 years – the pure shock to come back to your car 2 minutes – and I mean 2 minutes – late and find the clamper putting the clamp on your car is very distressing. If i was blocking somebody or causing an obstruction fair enough but no such sin comitted in my case. I appealled it and got no reply – showing the ticket and the clamp time – both showing 2 minutes lapse. Im still a bit cross about it!!!

27.  Clamped on sunday at closed industrial estate, not blocking any access, yeah it was a double yellow line, but the clamper advised me he sits in a hut with his camera waiting for fools like me grrrrr

28.  I had a valid ticket – but it was on the seat of the car (visibly) not on the dashboard. I was also (falsely) told that the fine had to be paid by credit card before the wardne would com out to unclamp the car – and that the warden would not accept a cheque or cash. I tried to appeal – but was turned down. I still have the valid ticket…

29.  car was clamped in a private apartment complex in rochestown, cork in which i pay €900 a month in rent. each apt is only given 1 car space with the ovther costing €600 per year! if you park in the alcoves of the car park (obstructing no one but with a double yellow line) you are clamped. was given a warning at 6am and clamped at 6.23am!!!! €120 to release.

30.  Clamper pounced immediately I went into the nearest shop for change. When I phoned to be de-clamped the clamping company did not recognize the clamping code. It took two hours for the de- clamper to arrive. Appealed and was given a refund of the fineclamp

31.  I think it is shocking in small towns where local business’ are failing by the day to see the clampers eagerly waiting on unfortunate people who are trying to support these business’. It wouldnt encourage me to shop local anymore after my experience in Naas. 120euros for being 8 minutes late back to my car – never again. Now I just avoid Naas at all costs.

32.  Clamping is only revenue related not congetsion,traffic or safety related and a disincentive to tourism and city centter trade, no impirical justification outlined todate as in a cost benefit analysis .

33.  I have been wrongly clamped (successfully appealed) and there is a massive sense of injustice. I had been avoiding Cork City centre because of clampers. Now I have gone back.

34.  In Cork, in my experience, they don’t even bother to clamp – they just tow you away from loading bays! Horrific experience – initially, you think the car stolen. Outrageous fee @ 160 euros to reclaim car, not to mention taxi fares to edge of town pound. Issue needs to be seriously addressed. It’s a complete racket, to my mind.

35.  As already explained, when a sign says “FREE PARKING AFTER 4PM”, you do not expect to be clamped. You should not have to walk up and down the street trying to find another sign which indicates that it is in actual fact a clearway!!!

36.  Availability of parking is a real problem for residents of Dublin City Centre and I feel we are being penalised unfairly despite paying for permits for use on streets where we can’t get parking.

37.  Private clamping companies operating in housing estates under instruction of the management company. I was clamped (unfairly in my opinion) outside my own apartment as I forgot to transfer permit from my car to my brothers whilst my car was being serviced. Neither the management company or the clamping company would deal with my complaint. Clamping company never even responded to my email (the only way of making a complaint) and refused to allow me speak to a supervisor whilst on the phone to them. Is there any regulation of private clamping companies?

38.  My preference would be as follows: 1. Parking in a marked bay should attract a fine, not a clamp 2. Parking in a dangerous location (or blocking entry) should result in being towed and fined, again, not clamped. Clamping could be a reasonable way of dealing with cars that fail to display tax/insurance/nct. It would force the owner to contact the Gardai and if they can’t provide a reasonable explanation, then the vehicle could be towed. However, this power should be reserved to Gardai, not employees of private companies. One of the justifcations given for clamping was that it was wasting valuable court/Garda time. I agree with this and would simply issue a fine which is linked to the owner of the vehicle. The fine can be issued in the same way that speeding fines are. The system could also be linked to the road tax system and/or insurance brokers who could decline to issue tax/insurance unless the fine is discharged (so no need for courts). If private clamping companies are to be retained then I would like more strict operating guidelines as follows: 1. The clamp must be removed within a shorter window (I believe it’s currently 2 hours, 30 minutes might be more appropriate) with penalties accruing to the company beyond a certain time. 2. The clamping company must provide a rapid unclamping service for emergencies (based on the say so of a Guard, medical doctor, other designated official etc.) 3. The clamping company must absolutely follow the direction of a Guard 4. There could be an option to register your car with the clamping company. In that event, the company will call you and inform you. Under these circumstances, if you pay the fine there and then, they would not clamp you (provided you move you vehicle within a certain time)

39.  I think there is a massive grey area where clamping is concerned. I think it is perfectly acceptable to clamp someone in a disabled parking space, in a no parking zone, or double yellow lines. But on private property should not be allowed! And clampers should not be out sourced, they should be directly employed by the government and not paid comission.

40.  I was clamped by a provate company when a small portion of my car was over the line. When I rang to pay the fee, there was a €5.00 sur-charge for paying by credit card. My car was clamped and there was no bank near by so I had to do it that way. Not even Ryanair charge that is a credit card sur-charge. Furthermore they advise that they would release my car within the next 24 hours, and if I did not move within 45 mins of that, I would be clamped again. I was clamped at 11.00 pm and has to wait until 12.15 to be released.

41.  I was clamped outside Eddie Rockets in Terenure. I was coming from a match in Croke Park and had a sick child in the car. I parked and ran in to Eddie Rockets so the child could go to the toilet and when I came out (around 10 mins) I was clamped. I appealed to no success.

42.  On the side of the vans it states “keeping Dublin moving” or something like that. How is clamping cars parked on small back roads who have paid for the privilige, and might be out of time, doing this. Surely a parking ticket of a fair cost would make motorists accept their wrong doing and move on. Also, how come there are lots of cars parked on footpaths outside the clampers place of work in a Harolds Cross back laneway not clamped ? As another issue, why do local authorities create paid parking places, on streets that are too narrow, opposite solid white lines etc., and dangerousily close to corners? Do the rules of the road not apply to them!

43.  Clamping is absolutely necessary for illegal parking on public & private property but there should be a process where clamping companies can be held accountable for and in the event where they are wrong sever penalties should apply

44.  The price of clamp release is, as far as I am concerned, still celtic tiger prices. When I was clamped I barely had enough money to release the clamp as our house hold budget is weekly and every penny is accounted for. There alot of families that live like this at the moment so maybe that should be taken into consideration. People do not have the money available for extremly high clamp release prices.

45.  Why are the costs of clamping so much? Whatever happened to parking fines (surely with technology these days it’s a much more viable option)? The inconvenience of having to wait too, but overall, the costs are just astronomical. Also, the price of parking is getting scandelous, and the lack of free parking on the outskirts of city centres and/or the lack of park and ride facilities is terrible

46.  I park (legally) on a residential street near work as parking is 5 euro per day and too expensive. Last week i noted that 5 cars were clamped along this road possibly for being parked opposite entrances and double yellows. These people have parked here for last five years to my knowledge. Whether this is right or wrong is not the issue but if areas are to be zoned no parking then they should have double yellows. Also am on the view that clamping is a ridiculous price and agressively done- prefer the penalty of parking tickets.

47.  It is totally wrong to clamp people’s cars. I had a car clamped once at 1am, because there were no parking spots within a half mile of the hotel we were staying at. There was a side street with a number of businesses that were closed for the night, and about 10 handicapped empty spaces. I pulled in one and ran into the hotel, was in there 15 minutes, ran back out to take the car to a car park at another hotel they told me about, and discovered it clamped. I had to wait there with my 14 year old daughter for 2 hours, pay 120 euro, and I had to have a big fight with them because they wanted me to take a cab across the city to go into their office in a bad part of the city at 2am to pay to get the clamp off. It was an absolute nightmare, and I was really afraid. And then all our money was spent as well, we only had 40 left for the weekend.

48.  Upper Hatch St is a clampers paradise. If attending the National Concert Hall, the 3 hour limit means you will be clamped unless you renew your ticket at the interval. Upper Hatch St. has no privated residences so you are doing no harm to anyone. Lower Hatch St on the other had has private residences and FREE PARKING after 7pm. Where is the logic in that? I learned my lesson the hard way and now park in Lower – not Upper Hatch St.

49.  Private clamping is a worry for me. I was clamped in a private carpark recently. I called to be declamped but they could not facilitate paying over the phone. So it meant I had to sit in a dark lonely carpark for an hour waiting for the declamper to come (the person on the phone could not give me a time frame) – not very safe for a female on her own. The driver who eventually came took my credit card details on old fashioned rubbing machine which also worried me as very easy to replicate these details – the clamping vans drive around with countless copies of people’s visa details.

50.  The clamping activity in my work & home location is simply dreadful. My view is that clamping should target cars that are dangerously parked or causing obstruction, or that have been left for hours without a valid ticket. I have see countless rows of cars clamped on mass for being minutes over due on their tickets but parked legally otherwise and causing no obstruction of difficulty to anyone. I believe a ticketing system for minor infringements would be more proportionate and reasonable as clamping is clearly a disproportionate penalty.

51.  There needs to be better controls around private firms, e.g. Must warn a car reg in that place once, clamp repeat offenders. Make all Toll Bridge tags suitable for street parking pay,ent as a requirement

52.  Cars are being clamped on side / back streets, which gives the impression that it is a revenue generation scheme. Originally was to ‘get Dublin moving’ through the punishing of cars that were causing an obstruction or clearly not paying for parking. Recommend that there should be some form of distinction between the person who has parked for a period of time with no ticket displayed, and someone who has parked with a ticket which has expired. In the latter scenario, consideration should also be given to the length of time since expiry and the fine appropriately scaled.

53.  If i was illegally parked in a bus lane or similar for 2 mins and i was clamped (rightly so) however my car would probably continue to obstruct traffic for another hour while i wait for the clamper to return to remove the clamp and if was not in possesion of a debit or credit card this could be potentialy longer and i would have to make the journey to the payment office and then wait another hour for the clamp to be removed. With this in mind i wonder if the real reason for clamping is more financial rather than safety or freeflowing traffic.

54.  think when entering an area for disabled car area should be displayed on entering this area below car drive in and at window angle so there would be no mistake. I was clamped in shopping area at Beacon Court Sandyford Dublin 18. Really could not afford the 90euros and was very upset after doing weekly shopping in this shopping mall.

55.  I feel that the practice of clamping is a very negative one. I would imagine that the vast majority of people being clamped are those who make a genuine mistake in relation to parking in certain areas. I certainly feel very disgrunted that I had to pay such a hefty fine, considering that I am a considerate driver and would never contemplate purposely parking illegally. I also feel that €80 is an unfair and excessive charge. When the fee has been paid, you are then expected to wait for anything between 1 and 1.30 hrs to be declamped. My feeling is that if the driver has paid their fine, then their car should be de-clamped within a shorter space of time. There is something very intrusive about having your car clamped and my sense is that it is more about making money as opposed to ensuring that our road are clear for traffic. My car was sitting in the so called restricted area for 1 hour while I waited for it to be de-clamped. Does that make sense? Parking signs need to be far clearer for drivers. The signs are far too similar in nature. I had to look over and over again at the sign beside my car yesterday, and I had difficulty in discerning that it was a restricted area.

56.  In many cases clamping is done for very minor parking offences, like off street parking at night time, being over time on a meter, these should be dealt with by means of a ticket, maybe for €40. As well as the clamping charge there is the added inconvenience of waiting to be released. Sometimes the State seems to be wielding a very big stick when most people are trying to make ends meet and are already paying significantly for the luxury of having a car for everyday living.

57.  Legislation needed to control clamping – it is being used by Local Authorities to cut down on Law enforcement costs. The Gardai have left many Traffic Enforcement issues to Traffic Wardens and the Local Authorities are further passing these issues on to the Clampers. The Clamping in private car parks urgently needs regulation.

58.  Only clamp vehicles if it is absolutely necessary. There are a lot times when a number of spaces that do not serve any purpose could be used for parking. Greedy clamping officers should have in mind that they should provide a purposeful, helpful service to prevent intrusive parking, not trying to clamp to get money.

59.  Some people are out there to make life miserable for everybody else, just because there is people every day saying I had to run the toilet or I didn’t have money for the parking ticket, doesn’t mean that every body is the same, some people literally don’t have the money to get a car unclamped, and I think the price of getting your vehicle unclamped raises every 24 hours, which I think is wrong the majority of people in Ireland are on the dole at present, I think to be fair and meet people half ways it would be reasonable enough to pay the 110-135 no matter how long the vehicle is clamped, given its no longer than 10 working days.

60.  If the object of the exercise is to free up parking spaces, how does confining my car to the space until I come up with money for a usury fine assist other parkers. I regularly see clampers simply waiting for a car’s ticket to expire and have seen clampers at work on cars where the owner was a mere three minutes late. Even if not written down to abused by motorists there should be some internal policy in relation to a grace period to allow for inadvertent delays affecting the motorist ~ say fifteen minutes perhaps.

61.  Clamping in hospital car-parks is most unfair. My own experience left me with a distinctly bad taste in my mouth for Blanchardstown hospital – a hospital with excellent health care professionals.

62.  Get rid of clamping in Ireland for good, Ban it by law. Clampers get payed for their job (and payed very well too) so go back to a ticket system which cuts the middlemen out and makes money directly.

63.  The cost to remove the clamping is far too high. If an unemployed or low income person was clamped it would cost a significant portion of their income to remove the clamp and that means they may need to sacrifice food, medical expenses, or perhaps borrow money in order to pay.

64.  In our case, we had 2 children with special needs waiting to be collected and the clampers would not even listen to what we were saying,(they were in the wrong as it turned out we should never have been clamped but no matter what we said we had to wait our turn!!) I had to arrange a complete stranger to pick up the kids so there should be a rapid response available in genuine emergencies (they can always charge extra if its not)

65.  I consider them a bunch of scumbags dragged from the lowest levels of society. They clamp a car-usually borderline- and then drive off and make you wait for 2 hrs for them to come back. They should only be allowed clamp if your parking in a disabled space without a sticker or outside a school set down area or equivalent.

66.  Private clamping is totally unregulated and dangerous. I was clamped once on what I consider to be a public road. You have no choice but to pay or else abandon your car. It is nothing short of a vigilante type operation; operating only for money with little or no control. You are no doubt aware of the anecdotal stories of links between organised crime and certain private clamping operations

67.  Why are we the taxpayers paying for a clamping service which is working on a loss making basis in Dublin and we have to subsidise this activity? The councils should have their own staff as clampers. In these times of austerity it really is vexing we pay these people (who we naturally dislike!) to do a job and then we pay them again when we get clamped? Surely a cost analysis of this would prove its a waste of money?

68.  If a car is being clamped and towed away a message should be left at the site the car was parked, because otherwise you waste garda time also ringing them becasue the clampers won’t give you any information if you don’t have the reference ticket which is stuck to the car. Also some cases should not be allowed e.g. man needing medication for his child at train station a few years ago and clamper refusing to unclamp him.

69.  I had my college parking permit displayed backwards by accident, got clamped and showed my permit to ncps and they did not care in the slightest and made me pay the full amount to de clamp, a simple error on my behalf but they are like trying to deal with the devil, no sympathy or understanding ever

70.  Clamping should be reserved for much more serious parking violations than for being a few minutes late returning to your car. I fail to see how it serves the public at all. In other countries the fine is a ticket associated with your car reg., and must be paid before vehicle can be taxed in the following year. This would be more money for the state and less for the buccaneering clamping business.

71.  I have come across instances where people have been clamped while assisting young children or eldery patients to clinics or the doctors where the car was clamped and it was obvious that they had just run into the clinic for a few minutes ie. drop-off. I know the responsibility should really be on the clinic/ GP to provide parking but this can still prove difficult. I was very nearly clamped in Ranelagh a few months when I went to buy a parking ticket, machine was out of order so I followed a sign to find the next machine but the sign had been moved and was facing the other way-I had walked for 10 mins and then saw the clamping van head towards my car-lets just say the speeds I hit in my car is nothing to compare to the speed I hit in my 4 inch heels!

72.  all in all clamping is a good idea for loading bays and wheelchair spots but i feel the fine is too high. 30 euro would deter people from parking there again if fined and at the same time teach them there lesson without infuriating them or leaving them without vital money that every household needs in these times. clamps are there to stop people parking there again not make them poor and angry. driving while angry is dangerous so paying 80-100 euro and then having to drive home is a risk that im surprised no one has noticed yet

73.  Parking charges should be the same in every country. To charge over €2 per hour is a rip off. Life is too hard for many family and clamping and parking charge system must be revisited and reduce charges. Also to clamp someone who is late to renew parking car for less than 30mins is not alright, especially in hospitals, health centres and other areas attended by vulnerable people.

74.  There needs to be clearer and more accurate signage, maximum fee, a body to report issues with clampers to. In Oakleigh Wood in Limerick, the signs read something like ‘non-permit holders must park in designated parking spaces’. There are two types of parking spaces in the estate: one with no markings and one with a white P written on the tarmac. Which one is the designed space? Some people guess the spaces marked with a P are the ‘designated space’, however, the P actually stands for Permit; but there is no way of knowing this. Also, there is the issue that if your car was broken into and the parking permit removed, you would be clamped and there is nothing you’ll have to pay it because there is nobody to report the clamping to and talking to the clampers is like talking to a brick-wall.

75.  The clamping companies should charge only 1/2 of the de-clamping fee and afterwards, if it is proven they were right to clamp you, to ask for the rest of the money. If they took a wrong decision to clamp you they will never admit it and the driver will never get the money back!

76.  One thing that really is of bother and that is how quickly they can clamp sometimes and then it takes hours before they return! There should be a maximum wait time as its a bit of a contradiction to be clamped for illegal parking and then it takes 3 – 4 hours before these guys come back? Is this not a bigger problem as its defeating the purpose of keeping an area clear!

77.  Clampes unfairly had paid the fee in a carpark area divided into two carparks not clearly designated with one ticket machine which was serving both carparks .Unaware that there was a time limit in the area whwre I had parked.had tp give credit card no to get them to release clamp.DE clamping agent who arrived agreed that the designation was very poor.It is outrageous that you can be fined on the spot (and wrongly so) .Appeals procedure is a joke.I regard this as farud.More money made that day for the company ICP by clamping than from parking fees as car park was peryy empty.All who were cl;amped had paid what the fee and were parked in what they thought was a legitimate area.No phsical barrier between the two car parks both run by ICP

78.  There does not seem to be much recourse if you believe you’ve been unfairly clamped. You won’t get unclamped until you pay, and you are very unlikely to get that money back. That being said, the new policy where they text when your car has been unclamped is a reasonable addition, and I’ve found them to be quite prompt when unclampling my car.

79.  Cars aren’t really designed for city centres in Ireland which are narrow. I would suggest the idea that car parking spaces could be reduced in the city centre by 2% a year with spaces being given over to bike parking or increasing pedestrian space making more livable spaces. However, in order to achieve this better transport intergration needs to occur so more parking at Luas, Dart and other transport hubs.

80.  They need to back off somewhat as people are barely surviving at all, never mind pay money for clamping. My huband parked his van while collecting €75 dole and he was not aware not to park there, when he came out the van was clamped and the man took great pleasure in it too.

81.  People should be allowed more time before they get clamped say for instance they maybe in town doing shopping and given given trade to the local businesses considering we are in recessionary times and they come back to find there car been clamped is abit much in my opinion that would turn me off parking in town and would refer to public transport instead i think they should allow free parking on a saturday and sunday and provide pay parking Monday to Friday but make it a resonable rate that people can afford to pay

82.  Management companies will say they have clampers in place as the residents have requested but they can never provide any statistics or evidence that this is the case. Where I currently live we own one car spot as my partner bought the apartment before we met. When I moved in we have to rent a second as clamping is in place. When we met I lived in Cork and would come up to visit in my car for a few days and sometimes a week at a time. Parking was an issue as the visitor parking was restricted to 48hours per car and visit so essentially the clamping company and management company were dictating how long I could visit for which is ridiculous. Also despite following the instructions to register my car I was clamped on two occassion and when I called up they would not accept my explanation. I had to get a copy of my phone records to prove I called in to register my car. This shows you have no come back once clamped. Also I waited an hour and a half on a Sunday to be unclamped when I was clamped incorrectly. The most recent clamping was in the spot I am renting in the underground car park. I came down one morning to find my car clamped as the person I am renting the spot from had not paid their management fees. I am pregnant and was on way to my first appointment with the Doctor. NCPS told me to call the management company, its 8.00 a.m and they don’t open until 9.30 so you can see one of the issues here. Also we pay our management fees so it was totally unfair to clamp my car. My final point relates to a house I own which is rented, again they were due to introduce clamping and the house I have is a 4 bed town house and there were 3 car owners in the house but the management company would only issue 2 parking permits so this was going to be an issue with my tennants. They have not brought the clamping in to date as an appeal was lodged with Fingal County council as it was discovered the property developer (Ross) was behind the idea of clamping. I queried with the management company who advised it was being brought in as a result of the residents request but they were unable to provide any evidence that this was the case. The estate in Question is Beaupark in Clongriffen, Dublin 13. They are my comments, I could go on but I think you get the drift of my frustration with clamping!

83.  I was clamped outside a public house when i left my car overnight and found it very unreasonable as I had spent a large amount of money in the establishment the night before and i find this incident has somewhat turned me against the idea of going there again.

84.  The clamping is outragious, it was only brought in to de congest the city centre, they have at your local shops, your local park where you try to bring your kids to play. It is another money making racket for local autority’s. and if as they say, it is costing too much money to run, then let them do away with it, just paint double yellow lines where they don’t want people to park and let the guards put fines on the windscreens as they done before.

85.  Regarding Public services, clamping should be focused on dangerous/illegal parking all around the city rather than money grabbing from meter parking and time being out when in a parking bay. Council clampers should also have power to penalise taxis illegally applying for hire(Dublin)/parked illegally. i.e. Suffolk St./ Grafton St

86.  Just mention that these private compaies are cowboys that are the most difficult people to deal with and charge you for everything…e.g using a laser card to pay the fine, charging you to make a claim

87.  I would in a hospital and I think it is a disgrace the way cars are clamped here. Everyone know that you could be kept waiting in a hospital for hours and I feel the 3 hour limit should be extended. Elderly people are not able to use the phone top-up. Maybe universal machines could be placed in public areas like the city centre when you could put in your visa card and car no and top up without having to return to your car.

88.  The appeals process run by outfits like NCPS is only a sham. They have told me that they always refuse. The level of release fee does not reflect the alleged offence

89.  I have no objection at all to cars being clamped (even my own) if they are in spaces that they shouldn’t be in eg without having paid. But …I often see cars around the town (Dublin city centre) obstructing whole lines of traffic because they have been parked half on pavements/on double yellow lines/by traffic lights, sometimes with hazard lights blinking, to suggest that drivers have just nipped in to shop to deal with some emergency. I think the clampers and tower-away people should actively search for these offenders as a first priority as they are very bad citizens with no thought for the wider driving communiy.

90.  Instrant clamping should only occur where a car is obstructing an emergency exit etc. Where there is a fixed parking fee, then there should be a charge issued/fine issued of maximum €25. That would be a lot fairer than the current system of extortion. I witnessed a mother having to take 2 babies home on a bus in the rain without coats after being clamped and not having the money to pay for a release. It was disgusting. She was not blocking anybody in/not harming anyone, and the cost for parking was €4 which she had but the machine was out of order. Disgraceful.

91.  A company called Galway Property Managment based in domnick st in Galway clamped my car last year, at the time I was unemployed and was unable to pay the €100 release fee. I offered to pay €50 and to leave my passport with them as security for the other €50 which I would pay a week later, they refused this request. 3 days later my car was removed by them to a yard belonging to them and I was informed I now owed them €300 (€100 for clamp fee and €200 for removal of car) they also informed me storage of car would cost me €24 per day until released and the car would be crushed after 30 days. I had to borrow the €300 in order to get my car back.

92.  Clamping in private residential areas should not be allowed nor should private clamping companies be allowed to charge rates of €120 to remove a clamp. It is excessive and often does not take into consideration the need for visitor permits in private residential areas.

93.  The intimidation tactics that they try (sending two guys – one of them invariably ‘big’) shouldn’t be allowed; I could see it bothering a lot of people. Also, they make you pay up front, and keep you waiting even when you have clear proof of having paid. It adds to the nuisance factor and presumably they are banking on people not following up to get their “release fees” returned.

94.  My three clamping incidents were on Private property in an apartment complex. The management company refuse to get involved and the clamping company personnel are not obliged to release without a fee, it ALWAYS has to be paid. I attempted to pay in coins for one such clamping incident, which they refused to take, I rang the Gardai who after saying the clamping company were obliged to take legal tender and on further refusal from the clamping company, the Gardai then said that they also will not get involved. I exhausted every avenue to get the clamp removed and it took over twelve hours to get the clamping company to release it only after I paid under duress by credit card which of course also incurred and additional €5 fee. I persued the matter for a few weeks after through the Property Management Company where I asked for the contract between them and the clampers which apparently I am automatically tied to, which they could not produce and eventually managemd to get a refund. Clampers can only be addressed through litigation which is an extortionate cost and it is so important that they be governed by someone. I received no compensation for the fact that my car had been hijacked by them for over 12 hours after offering payment. I also moved out of the apartment immediately with minimum notice to my landlord which of course did not go down well.

95.  get rid of CC or Corpo clampers – the fine should be deterrent enough and it would be more profitable for Councils etc. Private clamping should be banned and considered along the same lines as attempted damage to private property or a personal assualt and clamper held laible for loss of earnings etc due to clamp….

96.  I think the fine for being clamped should be regulated. I had to pay the fine as well as an additional charge for paying by card. The company did not accept cash so the additional cost could not be avoided. It is against consumer rights to have these additional charges for certain methods of payment.

97.  Private clamping companies should be illegal. If they should exist at all then they should have to be council run and the council responsible for them and their actions. But really disagree with any need for their existence.

98.  Clamping by the Dublin City Authorities is from what I’ve witnessed 99% justified. Clamping by private companies hired by management companies for residential areas is an absolute joke and these extorting scum need be tackled.

99.  the appeals process is extremely unfair, as the motorist has to pay extra. the fine for the clamp is incredibly expensive – to the point where I am now selling my car in the next few months as I was living to a budget, and the 120 euro fine pushed me over the limit. it is an extremely unfair process, demanding immediate payment of a very large fine. Other fines give a 28 day payment!!!

The cost of removing a clamp in Ireland is enormous! As the economy has collapsed and the private sector responded with lower wages and most shops/businesses have lowered their prices, the cost of removing a clamp and also of parking on Dublin’s streets is now disproportionally high! They need to be lowered! Clamping should also be 

*To give it its full title, the Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht

10 comments

  1. I own my apartment which is gated. The gates have been out of order for the past 5 years and the management company refuse to get them repaired. My parking space came with my apartment so in my opinion I should not have to pay for a permit to park in what is already mine (apartment and parking space registered in the land registery) but I was clamped and had to pay 120 Euro on Christmas Eve to be declamped. The management company have hired a private clamping company against the wishes of the majority of the residents of the apartments. It is a disgrace that this practice is allowed to go on.

  2. paid for the car park for three hours was late back for 20 minutes because got delay walking with a small child. came back car was clamped!!!!! Rang the number was left on the window they said the won’t de-clamp it unless I pay 120 euro!!! Is that legal???

  3. Can you recomend a solicitor – to deal with an unjustified clamping on private property ?
    Regards
    Peter

  4. My vanI was clamped in a private appartment car park in the visiter space.
    I followed the tenant into the complex as arranged and reversed into the parking spot.
    I did not see the text and park notice ,which was on the wall to the rear of van.
    I was 20 mins assessing a job for the tenet and returned to my van to find it clamped .
    I phoned the the clamping company but could not get to sleek with a person so took the clamp off myself using a hacksaw !
    I was kindly helped by a passerby who produced a 240 volt generator and was able to complete the task with my angle grinder !
    I will happily replace the clamp for the clamping company when they pay me a €200 clamp removal fee !

  5. Paid Parking – have it in writing from parking company I paid but APCOA refusing refund!

    5th July 2012 – Phoenix Park Train Station

    Parked car and paid over phone using credit card to parking company – ParkMagic. Number was displayed in the car park. Received text confirming registration for parking with them and headed into the Stone Roses concert. Came back to find my car clamped. Rang APCOA (the crowd who clamped us) claiming I had in fact paid for parking. Damien told me my reg plate was on their system alright but that it had an extra digit 3 at the end of it. Ludicrous! The lady beside me overheard my conversation and she was told the same story only she had a number 2 entered at the end of hers hence she was clamped too! To cut a long story short where I believe the problem lay in the payment option to be selected after reg plate entry on the phone system, we obviously appealed but were refused a refund based on Apcoa’s ‘fact’ that we had not paid for parking. Since then I have in writing from ParkMagic that we had paid on the night and should not have been clamped. So where do I go from here? Just checked the Ombudsman’s site and I’m not sure they cover clamping companies. I have written letters to all newspaper editors, one radio and tv program relaying my story. We even rang the Gardaí on the night who didn’t want to know. I will continue with this until I get justice as I feel innocent til proven guilty does not apply in APCOA’s ‘jurisdiction’. Sending me a photo of our clamped car saying it was parked in an unpaid bay while I have in writing from the parking company that we were paid up is really Apcoa taking the law into their own hands. I’m not impressed and will make every effort to bring this to the public attention.

  6. It always amazes me how poeple are clamped when after only two minutes after their expired time,or 5 minutes running into the shop. If you dont want to get clamped park legally. It’s like speeding caught speeding in the afternoon and what do they tell the guards why dont you catch those speeding at night. Observe the rules and you wont get clamped.

  7. I was clamped today in the car park of Athlone Institute of Technology. The company operating the service is APCOA. I registered for my student parking permit costing €20 before I started college. I received a letter back containing my parking disc (similar to tax disc) which you display in your car window when you are at the college. The disc was clearly displayed on the dashboard of my car visable for the APCOA clamper to see and he still proceeded to clamp the car. On contacting the company by phone to remove the clamp. I received a recorded message, you can’t even speak to a customer service represenative to explain your situation. Selected the pay with cash option hoping that when the clamper would arrive to remove the clamp I could explain the situation and hopefully he would realise his error. However he arrived at my car informed me it would be €80 to remove the clamp. I showed him my permit explained it’s a valid permit and was displayed where he could clearly see it. He said its a different car I explained that my car was in getting a service so I had a different car today.

    As per the Athlone Institute of Technology web site “Legitimate Use of a Permit
    A permit is required on campus between 09:00 – 17:00 daily, Monday – Friday
    The permit should be displayed where all permit details are clearly visible.
    For secondary vehicles, the permit must be transferred from the primary vehicle to the secondary before parking on campus. http://www.ait.ie/aboutaitandathlone/parking/

    I had transfered the permit as stated above to the secondary vehicle and it was displayed clearly for the clamper to see. However I was still clamped. I tried to reason with the clamper but he still insisted on the fine being paid. Clamper said its €80 to remove the clamp or else I’m going. He told me that it sound like I would have grounds to appeal the payment. I said I don’t understand how come you clamped me so. He still insisted that I pay or else he would not take off the clamp. I have two children that I was already 30 minutes late picking up from creche so had no option but to pay the money so that I could drive my car away to collect them. I showed him 10 other cars that were parked on the foot path infront of my car (I was parked in a marked parking space not obstructing anyone or anything) and not one of those cars were clamped? Is it legal that he should be allowed to clamp my car even if I have a valid parking permit displayed? Just to clarify the permit displays only the date issued, the expiry date and a permit number. The permit does not display any details about the car registration or owner details. When I received my parking permit from APCOA they did not issue any information booklet or details in relation to the use of permit it was simpily a letter advising me to place the permit in my car and thanking me for my payment. How can a company be allowed to clamp a persons car when they don’t give people a detailed breakdown of company policy on clamping.

  8. Hi Kathy,

    That’s for getting in touch with us. Regulation of clamping in Ireland at the moment is very loose and the rules governing it very ambigious, however this is set to change in the near future as a results of a policy campaign that Conor has been involved in. You can read an article by Conor on this at:
    http://blog.aaireland.ie/index.php/2012/02/14/clamping/private-clampers-must-be-regulated

    Yours is a clear case of why these changes are so desperately needed and we’re genuinely very sorry sympathetic towards your experience. In terms of what you can do in the meantime you should go through the APCOA appeals process. You can contact the department on:
    Appeals Department, APCOA Parking Ireland, PO Box Number 11170, Co. Dublin, email clamping.appeals@apcoa.ie You will need to include the ticket number and your registration details in your correspondence with them.

    We would hope given that yours is such a clear cut case that you get a satisfactory resolution. If not your next port of call should be to the small claims court.

    Best of luck with the appeal,

    Kind regards,
    Miriam

  9. When a private clamper gets you it often feels like you are the victim of kangaroo justice..The blog has powerful content..The management company have hired a private clamping company against the wishes of the majority of the residents of the apartments.

  10. Hi

    I had to go to hospital and my car broke down unfortunately near it in Navan co Meath. I left the car parked on the road going to real estate, no yellow lines or anything. I rang a friend to come and help me with the car and went to the main road waiting for him, while the clamping happened. I was so furious. This is a private company Car Park Management Services who operates in Navan co Meath. I rang hem and told them what happened but they didn’t car and wanted off me 120euro paid for taking the clamping off!!!
    1. where can I check what are my rights
    2. where should I appeal
    3. I don’t have money to pay for it- unemployed
    4. Itns the clamping fee too high (I read on citizen information website it shouldnd be any higher than 60euro)
    5. why didn’t I get the warning first time as it never happened with me before?

    The company is very unpleasand the person on the phone is shtty and not wanting to cooperate.

    Please help.
    Anita

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