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Carry on clamping... as Dempsey won't budge

TRANSPORT Minister Noel Dempsey is to allow rogue clampers to continue to operate with impunity.

Mr Dempsey said he has no plans to regulate clamping on private property after Fine Gael published proposals to protect motorists against "unscrupulous" operators.

Fine Gael wants to make it illegal for companies to clamp vehicles on private properties unless they have a licence.

The parking control firms in question operate in places like apartment buildings, hotels, restaurants and hospitals.

Fine Gael's Simon Coveney said he wants the introduction of a legally enforced code of conduct to protect motorists and an upper limit of €80 on clamping fees.

Also, he is seeking garda vetting of all clamping employees and a time limit within which clamps must be removed.

But Mr Dempsey said current parking laws apply only to public roads or local authority car parks.

"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.

Mr Coveney said the system in place at the moment is "totally unregulated", allowing "cowboy clampers" to operate.

His proposals would make it an offence to clamp a vehicle without a licence, while it would also be against the law for a landowner to hire an unlicensed firm.

Preyed

The maximum punishment would be five years in jail and/or a fine. Mr Coveney said the lack of regulation means many motorists have been preyed on by unscrupulous operators.

The Fine Gael TD is planning to bring his proposals before the Dail in the autumn.

Mr Coveney said: "This Bill will radically transform the clamping industry. For the first time, the industry will be regulated with legally enforceable standards for motorists. It will also protect legitimate clamping operations.

"Under the current system, anyone can set up as a clamping company on privately owned land. Companies and individuals of ill repute have been able to operate unscrupulous clamping operations."

comurphy@herald.ie


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