City clampers' release fee should be raised to €130 - parking officer
The fee for releasing clamped cars in Dublin should be raised to €130 as the current fine of €80 is no longer a deterrent, according to the city council's parking officer.
The proposal to increase the release fee by €50 is backed up by the fact that Dublin City Council is making an annual loss on clamping - despite hitting 56,000 motorists last year.
Dublin's motorists already pay some of the heftiest fines in Europe for illegal parking.
However, Dublin City Council's parking appeals officer, Bill Keilthy, has said that the price has not been increased since 1998 and is "no longer a deterrent to illegal parking".
His proposal has the backing of Fine Gael councillor Paddy McCartan, who is a member of the city's Transport Committee. He told the Irish Independent: "It's a choice you make if you get clamped... It is time we face up to reality - the money needs to be made up somehow."
A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said she was "not going to say now whether he's going to rule it in or out".
A spokeswoman for the council said: "Dublin City Council will not be making any comment on the issue before Wednesday (April 15) where it will be discussed at a Strategic Policy Meeting."
It cost €7m to clamp illegally parked cars in the city last year, but it only brought in €4.2m in fines.
Mr Keilthy said that law-abiding motorists were subsidising clamping through the charges they pay for on-street parking.
The Department of Transport spokeswoman pointed out the Vehicle Clamping Bill 2014, which is passing through the legislation process, makes provision for fines of up to €5,000 to be levied on operators who charge too high a vehicle-release fee.
The proposed measures will regulate the activity on private property such as hospital and apartment car parks.
When the laws are enacted, the National Transport Authority (NTA) will be empowered to receive appeals and complaints from motorists who have been clamped.
The bill makes it illegal to clamp ambulances, fire engines or garda squad cars on private property when the vehicles are being used in the course of their duty.
Dublin's clamping fines are higher than some of our European neighbours, with fines in Paris ranging from €35 to €135, depending on where the car is parked and at what time of day it is.
In Edinburgh, your vehicle can be clamped if you have more than 20 unpaid parking tickets. To remove the clamp you will need to pay the £40 (€55) release fee.
London charges between £80 (€110) and £130 (€180), depending on the severity of the contravention. Other cities such as Cardiff and Madrid do not have clamping in place but do have towing in place.
Figures show more than 2,300 drivers have been clamped in Dublin between four and 50 times over the past four years, with one person caught 55 times - an average of once every three to four weeks.