Friday 28 April 2017

Clampers taking €2,000 a day on tiny 'golden mile'

Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

It's only 80 yards long but for ruthless Dublin clampers, it's a golden mile.

Parking enforcers are taking nearly €2,000 a day from the tiny Noel Purcell Walk, not far from St Stephen's Green in Dublin city centre.

The roadway -- which honours the actor who sang 'Dublin Can Be Heaven' -- is now a hell on earth for busy motorists, and is the most clamped street in Ireland.

It is a rich revenue stream for Dublin City Council, which earned almost €10m in car-clamping fees across the city in the last two years.

A total of 1,143 cars were clamped last year on Noel Purcell Walk, generating at least €92,000 in release fees -- or more than €1,000 per yard.

The roadway is pay-and-display from Monday to Saturday until 4pm.

It is understood that the majority of the cars are clamped between 4pm and 7pm when Noel Purcell Walk becomes a clearway.

Many motorists are unaware of the change in parking designation during the mid-afternoon.

Last year, the city council received €4.8m from clamping -- an increase on the €4.69m they raised in 2008.

The company that carries out the clamping services, Dublin Street Parking Services (DSPS) has 200 clamps to carry out enforcement duties.

Shelbourne Road, close to the Lansdowne Road DART station, had 950 cars clamped last year and Jervis Street in the city centre followed closely with 756 cars clamped.

The number of vehicles clamped or towed in Dublin city continues to rise with almost 61,000 motorists falling foul of the punishment last year -- the highest number in six years.

Motorists, coming into the capital, pay some €2m a month in pay-and-display and related parking charges to Dublin City Council.

There are currently 1,063 pay-and-display machines in the city centre and the inner suburbs, and last year the council generated a total of €26.8m in income from pay-and-display charges and payments for residential parking permits.

Meanwhile, last week Fine Gael published their proposals to make it illegal for parking control firms to clamp vehicles that are on private properties -- unless it is an approved company in possession of a licence to operate.

The proposal is aimed at protecting motorists from "rogue", "irresponsible" and "unscrupulous" clampers at apartments, hotels, restaurants, hospitals and shopping centre parks.

But Transport Minister Noel Dempsey says that regulations contained in the Road Traffic Acts apply only to parking on public roads or in local authority car parks and that regulating the private sector was not in his plans.

"The practice of clamping or the removal of vehicles on private property does not come within the scope of road traffic legislation and I have no plans to regulate in this area," he said.

Deputy Simon Coveney of Fine Gael says the current system was "totally unregulated" and allows "cowboy clampers" to set up a company on privately owned land.

He urged the minister to introduce a legally enforced code of conduct to protect motorists, a cap of €80 on clamping fees, garda vetting of all clamping employees, a time limit within which clamps must be removed, and an independent appeals mechanism for motorists.

Sunday Independent

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