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Clamping fines to rise and worst offenders to pay more

MOTORISTS will be hit with bigger fines depending on how badly they have flouted parking rules under proposals to overhaul the clamping industry.

Drivers who fail to pay and display and those parking in a disabled space without a permit face paying extra.

A standardised penalty system for councils and private clamping companies -- as well as a national appeal system -- are also recommended.

Oireachtas Transport Committee chair Ciaran Lynch said yesterday that drivers who parked in a disabled bay when they were not entitled to, or those who didn't pay and display would face the higher fines.

Mr Lynch suggested clamp release rates should vary from €60 to €140, and predicted the new laws could be in force by the end of the year.

Dublin City Council's clamping penalty is €80, but fees on private property can rise to more than €100.

Rates

The committee has set out 38 recommendations to overhaul the industry.

Some of the main recommendations include:

• There should be national minimum and maximum release fees, but local authorities and private operators would jointly decide the same rates within that band for each county.

• To clamp a vehicle, an operator must be licenced and registered.

• Clamping should be banned in hospitals.

• Maintain a register of licenced clamping operators.

• Introduce a two-tier appeals process, dealing with the operator in the first instance before moving to a national, independent Parking Appeals Officer.

• Details of the appeal process should be available when handed a fine.

• If a clamp is not fully fitted by the time a driver returns to the car, the vehicle should be released.

• Clamping signage should be bilingual and uniform in size, colour, shape and lettering.

• Provide means of payment other than credit or debit card.

AA spokesman Conor Faulkner said they were very satisfied with the proposals.

"The thrust of what they're saying is sound, which is clampers become regulated and operate under licence," he said.

A spokesman for Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said departmental officials would work on the legislation as a priority.

However, he would not comment on when it could become law, saying it depended on the agenda of the Dail.

Irish Independent