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Sunday 24 September 2017

Cowboy clampers face a cap on fees... 19 months later

Private clampers are still able to charge up to €300 to release vehicles despite new laws to limit fees being passed 15 months ago. Stock Image
Private clampers are still able to charge up to €300 to release vehicles despite new laws to limit fees being passed 15 months ago. Stock Image
Transport Minister Shane Ross Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A law aimed at cracking down on private clampers charging excessive fees for releasing cars is finally set to be implemented 19 months after it was signed by the President.

The Vehicle Clamping Act was passed in 2015 amid concerns that some private operators were charging as much as €300 to free cars from clamps.

It gives the National Transport Authority (NTA) the power to cap the maximum fee.

Transport Minister Shane Ross had expected the Vehicle Clamping Act to come into force last autumn, after the NTA was provided with additional resources as well as time to put appropriate training and administrative support in place.

But an error in the legislation caused further delay.

Fianna Fail TD James Lawless, who has raised the issue in the Dail, said it was "outrageous" that legislation passed in 2015 was only now ready to be implemented.

The Kildare North TD said: "There was a legitimately identified issue which was cowboy clamping. There was a solution put in place to fix it which had all the force of the Oireachtas behind it but that never happened. I think that's outrageous. If you've passed a law you've got to go and follow through on that."

Ross told the Dail last month that the Vehicle Clamping Act had not commenced, as it required an amendment "in order to correct an error in how it deals with the consultation process before making required regulations".

A Transport Department spokesman said this amendment was included in the Road Traffic Act, which was signed into law on December 27 and is now ready for commencement. He added that extra money was provided to the NTA in the Budget in 2015 that allowed it to recruit staff with the expertise required to support its new functions during 2016.

He said the "technical issue" with the law was identified only in the last three months of 2016 but that Ross "immediately instructed officials" to introduce the amendment fixing the problem.

Sunday Independent

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