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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Dempsey: I won't take on 'cowboy' clampers

Aine Kerr Political Correspondent

TRANSPORT Minister Noel Dempsey has ruled out making any attempt to curb rogue clampers who operate on private properties.

Fine Gael last night published proposals to make it illegal for parking control firms to clamp vehicles on private properties -- unless they are an approved company with an operating licence.

The legislative changes were proposed in an effort to protect motorists from "rogue", "irresponsible" and "unscrupulous" clampers at apartments, hotels, restaurants, hospitals and shopping centre parks.

But Mr Dempsey said the Road Traffic Acts relating to parking apply only to the parking of vehicles on public roads or in local authority car parks.

The minister said he had no plans to regulate the private sector. "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.

However, Fine Gael's Simon Coveney argued that the current system was "totally unregulated" and allowed "cowboy clampers" to set up as a clamping 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.

Offence

Under his proposals, it would be an offence to clamp a vehicle without a licence. It would also be an offence for a landowner or occupier to hire an unlicensed firm. Those guilty of an offence would be liable to imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine.

"The lack of regulation means many motorists have been preyed upon by unscrupulous operators. At the same time, legitimate clamping operators have taken to wearing stab vests to protect themselves. This chaos cannot continue," Mr Coveney said.

The Fine Gael TD now plans on bringing his proposals before the Dail when it resumes in the autumn.

The Irish Parking Association, which represents the main clamping firms, had previously called for regulation of the industry after England and Wales recently moved to ban private clamping altogether. Scotland imposed such a ban in 1991.

Irish Independent

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