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DISABLED HIT AS MINIBUS IS CLAMPED; Duo demand pounds 140 after driver dashed to toilet.

Byline: Duncan Gibbons

WHEEL clampers stooped to a new low by targeting a charity minibus used by elderly and disabled people.

Two men in hi-vis jackets pounced on a Ring and Ride bus as the driver briefly parked up in Coventry to dash to the loo.

The clampers demanded a pounds 140 release fee but as the driver had no money he had to wait for a colleague to come out and take him to the bank.

No passengers were on board but the hour-long delay meant the driver was late picking up a group of disabled people from their homes.

A disgusted taxi driver took a photograph of the moment the clampers pounced in the car park of Stoke Ex-Servicemens Club, in Clay Lane, on Tuesday afternoon.

Signs clearly say the private car park is patrolled by Coventrybased clamping firm Clearway Parking Solutions, but the small print states disabled badge holders are exempt.

Mike Barnes, manager of Coventry Ring and Ride, in Henley Road, is appealing against the fine.

He said: "As a registered charity that for the last 26 years has been dedicated to providing accessible door-to-door transport for people with mobility difficulties, and with all our minibuses displaying disabled passenger badges along with conspicuous sign writing, I should have thought it was obvious that clamping the minibus was inappropriate.

"The inconvenience caused to 12 disabled passengers who were late being collected whilst our driver obtained the money does nothing to enhance the reputation of the wheel clamping industry."

Mr Barnes said the incident was "particularly irksome" because the minibus regularly takes passengers to the club.

He added he later visited the car park and saw many other vehicles parked there, including taxis, a mobile fishmonger and a burger van, which had not been clamped.

A spokeswoman for Stoke Ex-Servicemens Club, who did not want to be named, said the clampers were brought in because shoppers tried to use the car park for free instead of the 30p an hour car park over the road.

She insisted the minibus would not have had a blue badge and claimed the driver was getting his lunch from a bakery.

She added the fishmonger and burger van paid rent, but said efforts were being made to stop taxis parking there.

No one from Clearway Parking Solutions, in Percy Street, Spon End, was available for comment.

Ring and Ride runs a fleet of 22 buses in Coventry as part of a wider West Midlands scheme. The charity has a turnover of pounds 17m but makes no profit.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Oct 1, 2010
Words:425
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