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I had a valid ticket, but still had to fork out €120

ALL motorists hate being clamped. There is nothing guaranteed more to raise the hackles than the sight of a yellow steel plate bolted to your car wheel by a private company.

You protest to no avail that you didn't see the tiny warning sign hidden away in the corner of the private supermarket, indicating that this is a pay-parking zone subject to clamping.

The clamper shrugs and says he has a job to do. He's heard all the excuses before. The supervisor you phone says he can do nothing and you have to fork out €120 on the spot to get the clamp removed.

Or, as happened in my case, I point out as I stand in the rain with my elderly mother that I did have a valid ticket but it was blown on to the seat by a gust of wind as I closed the door.

And the variation in release fees between public and private parking spaces is enormous. It costs €120 to be de-clamped from an Irish Rail station parking space, and many supermarkets. Yet, the charge is €80 from a public parking place in Dublin city centre, and in the vast majority of public areas nationwide.

Of course, there is the option to pay the release fee and then appeal to the firm for a rebate. I paid the fee but when I explained the circumstances it was refunded.

Free-for-all clamping on private property ended in England and Wales last year when wheel-clampers were banned. If it happens, you can phone the police and get them prosecuted.

Here, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has ruled out an outright ban on clamping on private properties on the grounds that landowners need to be able to deal with nuisance parking.

At least he has had the good sense to put a cap on clamp-release fees, which might end the madness of hitting motorists with stupidly over-inflated charges of €120.

Placing the regulation of clamping under National Transport Authority auspices is also a good move.

Irish Independent