MP: Stop the car clamp 'extortion' CAMPAIGN: Tales of initmidation and threats associated with release fees.
A BIRMINGHAM MP today demanded an urgent overhaul of the law surrounding the "legalised extortion" of car clamping.
Selly Oak MP Lynne Jones is demanding the Government takes decisive action after being inundated with tales of intimidation, threats and questionable practices.
One constituent, Maggie Cotton, 69, of Elmfield Croft, Moseley, was clamped after parking on waste ground near Digbeth Coach Station.
The clamper was licensed by the Security Industry Authority, which regulates the clamping industry.
She offered to pay the pounds 95 fee listed on a sign to have her car declamped, but they towed it away and demanded a pounds 310 release fee, insisting she pay in cash.
Mrs Cotton said: "It was very intimidating."
The company, Nationwide Parking Control, operates from a mailbox address in Colmore Row and can only be reached on a mobile phone.
Dr Jones said the clampers breached industry guidelines laid down by the British Parking Association, but as these are voluntary there was nothing she could do.
She said: "Clampers are now required to be licensed, but Mrs Cotton's case demonstrates that licensed operators are getting away with charging extortionate release and removal fees as well as intimidatory behaviour towards often very vulnerable people.
"The British Parking Association's Code of Conduct for clampers is welcome but effectively useless because it is entirely voluntary."
She said the only legal licence, granted by the SIA, covers such a narrow area it is "hopelessly inadequate".
Since being introduced last year, just one clamper in England and Wales has had their licence revoked.
Dr Jones added that in Scotland clamping has been banned except by police or local authorities.
She said: "It is a mystery to me why a practice rightly outlawed as extortion north of the border should continue to be condoned in England and Wales.
"They are focusing on making profits rather than offering effective parking control on private land." The Government line is that there are no plans to tighten the regulation of clampers, but the Labour MP is now lobbying for a change.
A spokeswoman for the Security Industry Authority admitted their remit was very narrow and ensures only that those individuals who clamp cars are licensed and does not regulate the firms themselves.
She added: "If people have complaints about the firm, they need to speak to Trading Standards or the Citizen's Advice Bureau."
What would you do to tackle the cowboy clampers?
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DISGUSTED... Dr Lynne Jones MP with car clamping victim Maggie Cotton. Picture: Adrian Pearman