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Garda vetting to weed out rogue clampers

STAFF at clamping companies will have to secure garda clearance before being allowed operate under new proposals.

The Government will introduce legislation to control parking enforcement companies later this year as part of their plans to regulate the industry.

The legislation will also contain set fees for motorists found to be parked illegally.

The move comes after a series of controversies in recent years over aggressive tactics from private companies.

One company was accused of clamping cars despite the ticket machine being out of order, and of clamping vehicles when customers were going into shops to get change.


But now Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has promised to enact legislation aimed at stamping out sharp practice.

"The law currently allows local authorities to clamp vehicles in public places, either directly or by contract with a clamping company, however the current system of clamping on private property is under-regulated, bad for motorists and bad for business," he said.

"We want to bring in a new system which protects motorists from exploitation, and benefits legitimate operators, but which still penalises bad parking.

"Members of the public have expressed serious concerns about some private clampers."

The minister will present proposals to the Dail Transport Committee in the coming weeks. It is understood the proposals will include:

•A licensing system for all companies involved in clamping and parking enforcement.

• All staff will have to be of 'good repute', and undergo garda clearance.

• Operating guidelines and an appeals mechanism.

• Details of where the new regime will apply, at apartment complexes, shopping centres and local authority areas.

Last year Dublin motorists paid release fees of more than €4.5m. The numbers clamped were 58,076, and the most clamped streets were Noel Purcell Walk, Shelbourne Rd, Jervis St, Ranelagh and Wellington Quay.

A release fee of €80 is generally charged, but this can vary. Cars clamped in train station car parks incur a €130 fee.

The Irish Parking Association, which represents most enforcement companies, said it welcomed regulation.

"It's something we've been looking for," spokesman Keith Gavin said.

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