Monday, 4 June 2012

Wheel Clampers


There are dozens of complaints every day about rogue car clamping firms operating in and around Birmingham. In actual fact you are more likely to have your car towed away than you are to have it clamped.

Birmingham City Council does not operate car clamping operations. Whilst they may remove offending vehicles by towing them away they do not clamp them. Most of the complaints about car clampers involve accusations of  demands for money with menaces and aggresive tactics. Disputes about the legality of towing away a vehicle are almost always directed at private car clamping firms.

This unregulated sector is despised by the general public and it is not hard to see why. Newspapers carry regular stories about unfortunate victims and the attitude of car clamping firms.

One of the worst affected areas is Digbeth where many empty car parks and private land are the target for over zealous clampers who will then clamp or remove a vehicle and demand up to £500 for its return. A number of clamping firms operate from this area of the city.

In 2009 Birmingham city councillors finally recognised the scale of the problem and called for new legislation to make wheel clamping illegal. They argue that clamping firms are more interested in raking in cash than cracking down on illegal parking.

It was also noted that the majority of vehicles were towed away rather than clamped which attracted a much higher release fee.

It would seem that the tide is turning on the thugs of the clamping trade. In recent times we have seen action taken against Inter-Park, a firm owned by a certain Andrew Baker, whose dubious activities include Autoclampt Ltd and Area Car Parks Ltd, both of which were struck off the official register by Companies House.

In July 2009 four private clampers were arrested in dawn raids by West Midlands Police and Trading Standards on suspicion of conspiracy to blackmail. A tow truck and clamping equipment was seized during the raids.

Traders do need to be aware of the impact on their businesses when they employ car clamping firms to patrol their car parks. Many complaints accuse clamping firms of towing away vehicles for parking slightly over the dividing lines or for not parking straight enough.

In Digbeth vehicles have also been removed from the car parks of respectable companies such as the Second City Suite and from Latifs and Sons. Latifs were quick to point out that no clampers are allowed in their car park but the surrounding privately owned car parks have been problematic. The whole of the Digbeth area is a gravy train for the clamping firms.

If your company uses a car clamping firm you can expect to lose customers as a result. We would urge everyone to boycott companies that use aggressive clamping firms.

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