Sunday 17 February 2019

Motorists hit by dodgy tactics 'must have the fines refunded'

Concern: Dublin city councillor Ciarán Cuffe has told of his concerns. Picture:
Concern: Dublin city councillor Ciarán Cuffe has told of his concerns. Picture:
Conor McCrave

Conor McCrave

Motorists who have been unfairly penalised by the clamping system must be refunded, according to the councillor who lifted the lid on questionable clamping tactics in the capital.

It comes after it was revealed two clamping employees made protected disclosures to Dublin City Council (DCC) claiming dodgy tactics were being used to clamp and fine motorists.

"We certainly don't want to condone parking violations but we want to make sure people aren't unfairly penalised," said Dublin City councillor Ciarán Cuffe.

"At this stage I'm concerned that the clampers may still have a quota for a certain number of clamps per day. If they are working to a quota then they will be under pressure to get more clamps," he added.

The concerns were raised in early 2017 by employees of Dublin Street Parking Services (DSPS), which has held the parking enforcement contract with Dublin City Council since 2004 and has denied any wrongdoing.

Among the concerns were allegations the company took an inconsistent approach to parking enforcement with a failure to enforce parking restrictions at certain city centre locations.

They also alleged vehicles were clamped where there were inadequate road markings, which as a result meant parking offences could not have been committed.

An investigation was carried out and a report by a former assistant Garda commissioner appointed to look into the allegations was later withdrawn as it "breached the principles of natural justice".

Latest clamping appeals figures for 2016 show that 56,000 vehicles were clamped in Dublin. While 2,700 of these were appealed, just 5pc of appeals were successful.

Following news of the protected disclosures, there are now concerns more motorists may be entitled to a refund.

In a letter to Cllr Cuffe, DCC chief executive Owen Keegan said he was "satisfied in general the parking enforcement service operated to a reasonable standard" but felt "there was a valid basis for the various concerns that were raised".

"DSPS, with considerable justification, robustly denied any wrongdoing on its part or any failure to comply with its obligations to the city council under the parking enforcement contract," he said.

DSPS refused to comment when contacted by the Irish Independent.

Irish Independent

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