A WEXFORD man has now taken to using an angle grinder to remove clamps from his van as a bitter row over parking at an estate in the town deepened. Seamus Kenny, a resident at Hollyville Heights, first removed a clamp from his Ford Transit using the angle grinder on Saturday and did so again on Monday morning.
The incidents have been reported to the Gardaí in Wexford as thefts by private clamping company, National Controlled Parking Systems (NCPS).
A Garda spokesman said they would be making enquiries into the matter, as with any other report of theft.
While the clamps are in the possession of the disgruntled resident, it's understood there may ultimately be a criminal damage issue, rather than a theft one.
'I'm at the end of my tether,' said Seamus, who borrowed the angle grinder from a friend and ran an extension cord out from his rented apartment, where he has lived for two years now.
The van is the only vehicle Seamus currently drives and is being clamped in the space outside his home on an ongoing basis by NCPS.
This is because, according to the Hollyville Heights Residents' Association, commercial vehicles are not permitted on the estate – even if a resident owns one.
An electronic barrier, which was previously erected at the entrance to the estate had to be removed as it did not have planning permission. Efforts to get retention for the barrier failed and it was removed.
Seamus recently staged a protest to the entrance to the estate, after he had his van clamped and his visiting brother had his car clamped, which cost them a combined € 240.
All residents of Hollyville Heights must display a parking permit or else their vehicles will be clamped by NCPS, while visitors are only allowed park their cars for two hours before they are liable to be clamped.
However, on Saturday, Mr Kenny did not call NCPS to hand over another €120 for them to remove the clamp. Instead, he brought the angle grinder outside and cut it off.
He feels he is entitled to cut the clamp off as there is no legislation covering the matter. So while this means he cannot call the Gardaí when clamped, he reckons it also means the NCPS cannot report him for removing it. He said he has not stolen the two removed clamps either and NCPS are welcome to have them back – for €120 each. The Residents Association say that the ban on commercial vehicles was part of the lease Seamus signed and would have to take the matter up with his landlord.
However, the Wexford man said he has the lease and there's no mention of it.
'It's not Hollywood Heights,' said Seamus, who feels that snobbery is at the heart of the dispute.
He said he only has the use of one vehicle now, his Ford Transit, and only parks it in his space. 'It's a Ford Transit, it's not a big fish lorry or anything,' he said.
'I only want to be left alone, I've nothing to gain out of this,' said Seamus.
Cllr George Lawlor said his offer to mediate in the dispute has not been taken up by either the Residents Association or the estate's property management company.
'I wanted to sit the two down and find a way out of this,' said Cllr Lawlor, 'but they seem intent on having this clause (relating to the commercial vehicles), which is of course their right.'
'The way things are going, they are going to let it fester,' said the Councillor, who reckons Seamus is 'a perfectly reasonable individual'.