Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Throwing The Baby Out With The Bathwater…

…seems to be a specialty of our legislators. One such example is that of the plan to make car-clamping on private land illegal:
Lynne Featherstone, the Home Office minister, will announce plans to curb the activities of clampers in England and Wales.

Ms Featherstone will say the rules should be brought into line with those in Scotland, where clamping on private land was banned after a judge said it amounted to 'extortion' and 'theft'.
Now, there’s no doubt that unlicensed car-clampers and unscrupulous landowners have brought the practice into disrepute. The local papers are no stranger to complaints from aggrieved motorists genuinely (and sometimes, not so genuinely!) held to ransom by clampers.

Longrider relates a few personal experiences.

But then, if the problem is cowboy clampers and lack of regulation, as Subrosa points out from the Scottish experience, why not regulate them? Why leave the private landowner with no redress from the ‘I’ll park anywhere I like’ brigade?

Ms Featherstone said she wanted to encourage "more proportionate way to deal with parking transactions".

Landowners who wanted to protect their land could erect barriers, she said.

Where it’s possible to, or practical to, yes, I suppose they could.

But that wouldn’t help the car park owner shown on Monday’s ‘One Show’ spot about this; there, a car had parked alongside several parking bays (blocking them). On being ticketed and clamped, the driver had simply removed his personal possessions and abandoned the car! Is someone like that going to respect any other form of enforcement?

Patrick Troy, chief executive of the British Parking Association, said that the Government would have to explain to private landowners how the ban would work.

He said: "If clamping is banned the Government must describe how it would protect landowners' interests where vehicles are parked unlawfully on their land."

Quite.

Once again, legislation is being made on the basis of the few rogues, and hitting the mainly compliant and useful services.

After all, in a world that contains people who can do this
A taxi driver was arrested after he got behind the wheel of an ambulance answering an emergency call and moved it to make way for his own vehicle.
I thought I’d seen everything, but no:
Officers attended the incident after the ambulance crew reported their vehicle had been driven away from outside an address in Pevensey Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, as they were preparing to take a one-month-old baby to hospital yesterday.
Respect for others property rights is a noble idea, but the balance cannot swing too far the other way; without enforcement and penalties to rein in the likes of these people, we have anarchy…

15 comments:

Bucko said...

I used to work at a pub called the Boatyard in Houghton. People (lots of them) used to park on our car park and take a walk down the canal. We employed a private firm and they used to give fixed penalty tickets to people parking but not using the premesis.
The tickets were not enforceable by law but most people paid up anyway and didnt come back.
The ticket system gave leeway for people to appeal or for if we made a mistake while providing a workable deterrant.
The tickets were £60 reduced to £30 if paid in 2 weeks, Not £150 release fee, due instantly.

Curmudgeon said...

The clamping industry has had years to show it can act reasonably and proportionately but has signally failed to do so. If you don't want people parking on your land, either fence it off or install a pay-on-exit system.

Woodsy42 said...

"but most people paid up anyway and didnt come back."

But Bucko, it's a pub - surely you should have WANTED them to come back!

I admit to having done exactly this myself, parked in a pub yard to walk the canal. But on deciding the pub looked good we have often gone for a drink or a meal and a pint after a walk. We have found a number of good walks and decent pubs worth returning to that way.

Just because they don't rush from their car to the bar doesn't mean your walkers are not potential customers?

allcoppedout said...

Clamping was pathetic, but it also came about at the very time all kinds of parking and speeding offences seemed to come to the enforcement fore. My Council lied about what I was parked on once (invisible yellow hashes actually painted a week later). Now with wardens all over, usually recruited from a mental home in Somalia, no one drives into town any more. Some yob traveller can still hold up what traffic there is by outrageous parking though.
Yup, they missed what was potentially good in clamping - enforcement against free-loading sods who won't pay up. Weird that they will entrust clamping powers with bully boys but can't sort out the non-payers, yet cause more misery for decent souls.

Anonymous said...

Once again, legislation is being promised (as opposed to delivered) on the basis of the newsprint inches and audio-visual media seconds it will garner. The Grand Alliance is frimly in the grip of the disease it caught from the previous shower - we must have some positive sound-bite announcement about a new policy direction every day - distraction, distraction, distraction is the name of the game. Vince Cable did it yesterday - promising "50,000 new apprenticeships" - anyone ever count how many hundreds of thousands of "new apprenticeships" were (a)promised and (b) actually delivered under the previous shower, especially by the much missed and lamented Gordon. For a good soundbite they will say they will throw out the bath, complete with water and baby !

Bucko said...

Woodsy - The pub was that busy that all the parking spaces were required for people eating inside. Taking them up for a walk down the canal just mean paying customers went somewhere else. We did take a lot of deposits from folk who wanted to walk now and eat later.
(I'll add that this was only on Sundays. We didnt bother on quieter days)

Woodsy42 said...

OK Bucko, In that case it wasn't as mindless as I assumed.

Quiet_Man said...

I'm all for a system to deter illegal parking, just not one that involves theft with menaces and that is what a lot of private clamping companies were up too. Holding your property to ransom until you handed over the cash, no excuses, no exceptions just hand over the money or we'll keep your car and charge you more for the privilege. Yes you could appeal, but most people don't have the time or cash to take these licensed thieves to court, bit like motoring fines.
Now suppose your kids trespassed onto my land and I handcuffed them to a fence until you paid to get them back?
Principles the same though you can bet the police would take a dim view of unlawful imprisonment or impoundment.

Curmudgeon said...

Perhaps a lot of the objections (and a lot of the complaints about cowboy clampers) would be removed if clampers were only allowed to charge a minimal fee for removal so they could not profit from it.

blueknight said...

Clamping. A lot of money being can be made very quickly with no real effort on the part of the clamper.
Couple that with the fact that a bit of threatening behaviour is a tool of the trade and there you have the problem.
There was a chance to limit the 'fines' and register the clampers properly, but this seems to have been put in the 'too difficult' box.
Would would enforce it. Not trading standards at 2.00 in the morning and the Police are hard pushed to attend 'crime' at its' current level.
The clampers have brought this on themselves, but there should be some protection for the honest landowner who has put up with trespassing cars.
Perhaps the wardens could issue tickets against some sort of private parking order that the landowner applies for.
The land owner has the rogue cars frightened away, the wardens get to issue even more tickets and the Council get more money. Too simple?

JuliaM said...

"The tickets were £60 reduced to £30 if paid in 2 weeks, Not £150 release fee, due instantly."

And here's where legislation to fix the price some of the cowboy companies charged could have helped.

"The clamping industry has had years to show it can act reasonably and proportionately but has signally failed to do so."

Not all of them. There was a registration scheme and code of practice, but it was voluntary.

"If you don't want people parking on your land, either fence it off or install a pay-on-exit system."

What if you can't do either, for practical or cost reasons?

"Yup, they missed what was potentially good in clamping - enforcement against free-loading sods who won't pay up. "

And people who will act like those in the programme. I wonder if that car was taxed/insured/legally owned?

"Once again, legislation is being promised (as opposed to delivered) on the basis of the newsprint inches and audio-visual media seconds it will garner."

Depressing, isn't it? It's like they are incapable of learning.

"Perhaps the wardens could issue tickets against some sort of private parking order that the landowner applies for."

I think this was ruled out because of the difficulty in tracing people. Plus the increase in manpower needed.

Furor Teutonicus said...

"Perhaps the wardens could issue tickets against some sort of private parking order that the landowner applies for."

I think this was ruled out because of the difficulty in tracing people. Plus the increase in manpower needed.


Super markets do not appear to have that problem, from news reports of people being ripped off for five minutes in a bread queue, and recieving a ticket in the post weeks later.

Furor Teutonicus said...

FU's.

And Quiet man, you miss the point entirely. It is not theft, the reason being, as you point out yourself, but do not appear to be able to make the connection;

Principles the same though you can bet the police would take a dim view of unlawful imprisonment or impoundment.

Clamping was (still is) LAWFUL, therefore NOT theft.

sobers said...

@Quiet man: The thing is that there are few, if any, other personal items people just leave lying around. Especially big ones that cannot be moved by others.

If you left something (your mobile for example) on my driveway a) someone will nick it, or run it over by accident and b) If I see it I'd pick it up anyway and put it somewhere safe, and try and find the owner. If you did leave it there and it disappeared, I don't think the police would be that sympathetic either. Equally if you left a very heavy item blocking my driveway (a pallet of concrete blocks for example) would I not be entitled at least to move them off my property? Why are cars any different?

As far as I can see this new law will mean a free for all. People will come home to find cars parked on their driveways, especially if they live near town centres, football grounds, theatres, music venues etc etc. People trying to shop in supermarkets will have no parking, small businesses will find people parked in their slots, in fact the streets will be empty (as they will have enforced residents parking and double yellows) but every piece of private land will have illegal parking. It will be a nightmare.

And I find it very distasteful that this will not apply to State owned land. If I can't clamp or tow cars on my land, why should the State be allowed to do so? I don't mean on the public highway, but on land owned by (ie registered to) the State, or local authority, or State body.

Quiet_Man said...

@ Furor and Sobers,

I'm not saying that there shouldn't be a penalty for inappropriate parking, just that the response should be proportional and sensible. Holding someone's property until an extortionate ransom (in the region of hundreds of pounds in some cases) is handed over is not proportional at all, nor is the often deliberate misplacement of penalty signs leading to entrapment. If the system were regulated and fair you might have a case, as it is the system is currently used by some as a license to print money often with menaces. This has tarred the entire clamping trade with a fairly broad brush and has lead to the current plans to outlaw it.