HARD-PRESSED motorists can heave a sigh of relief -- the Government has no plans to increase clamping fees.
The Department of Transport yesterday confirmed that drivers forced to pay to have a wheel clamp released would not face higher charges, despite calls from Dublin City Council for a 60pc increase.
In his annual report, clamping appeals officer William Keilthy said the €80 charge has not been increased since it was introduced in 1998.
The cost of running the clamping system was €7m a year, and the release fee should be a minimum of €130 so law-abiding motorists did not have to subsidise the service, he said.
An average of 58,000 cars a year are clamped in the capital -- more than 1,000 a week -- while up to 18 million parking permits are bought.
"By keeping the charge at 1998 levels, compliant motorists who pay for their parking are effectively subsiding non-compliant motorists to the tune of €50 per clamp, or €3m per annum," the report says.
Mr Keilthy said that an increase was warranted because the fee had not increased in line with inflation.
But the Department of Transport ruled out any changes.
"The minister has no plans at present to amend the current statutory maximum declamping fee chargeable by local authorities in respect of parking control on public land," it said.
Clamping release fees charged by local authorities range from €25 to €90.
They are higher on private property, with Iarnrod Eireann charging €120. A total of 55,449 motorists were clamped in Dublin last year, usually for failing to show a pay and display (P&D) ticket, with 5pc appealing.
The worst month for clamping last year was March, with 5,578 vehicles immobilised.