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Wednesday 20 August 2014

Maximum clamping fine will be €100 on private land

Paul Melia

Published 10/06/2014 | 00:03

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Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar at the publication of the new Clamping Bill at Government Buildings. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar at the publication of the new Clamping Bill at Government Buildings. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

MOTORISTS clamped for illegally parking on private land including shopping centres and railway stations will be hit with a maximum fine of €100 under new rules aimed at regulating the industry.

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Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said the Vehicle Clamping Bill 2014 will remove “rogue operators” from the clamping industry, some of whom charged hapless motorists up to €300 to release their vehicle.

The bill, which is expected to become law next year, is aimed at ensuring that clamping activities are carried out in a “fair and transparent manner”.

Legislation is already in place for clamping on public roads, and the bill will regulate it on private property, including schools, railway stations and housing estates.

However, Mr Varadkar said he would not be implementing a suggestion from the Dail Environment Committee that clamping be banned in hospitals because “illegal and dangerous” parking could result in ambulances being unable to access medical centres.

“This legislation will protect motorists from rogue clampers,” he added.

“We all know of instances where people were charged €200 or €300 and warning signs weren’t good or were very far away. This applies some form of regulation to schools, hospitals and private property.

“There have been a number of cases where private clampers are reported to have behaved unfairly or inappropriately, so we are now regulating the entire clamping industry for the first time.”

Mr Varadkar said he felt the bill struck the “right balance” between the rights of motorists, businesses and the local councils to deal with parking issues on public roads.

Appeals

The bill will put in place a new regulatory regime, including a two-stage appeals process.

Other provisions include:

* The National Transport Authority (NTA) will regulate clamping activities, and administer the appeals process.

* The maximum release fee will be €100. The maximum relocation charge will be €50.

* However, the NTA can set different release fees, determined by the property where the vehicle is parked.

* The landowner will be responsible for indicating that clamping is in operation. Standard signage will be introduced.

* The NTA will be given powers to introduce regulations, including setting out how quickly a clamp must be removed after the fine is paid.

* The NTA may also introduce codes of practice for clamping companies.

Mr Varadkar said that fines ranging between €2,500 and €5,000 could be imposed on rogue operators, and that the bill also protected legitimate companies.

The bill was welcomed by Labour TD Ciaran Lynch, the former chair of the Environment Committee, who said the bill would result in an “open and fair system”.

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