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ISSUE No. 101 Summer 2012

Wheel Clamping Ban a “Charter for the Selfish Parker”

FPRA protests to Government that the Protection of Freedoms Act ignores flat owners

The FPRA has accused Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone of ignoring flat owners and tenants with this month’s announcement that there will be an outright ban on clamping cars on private land. We say it will cause major problems for ordinary residents living in blocks of flats with parking spaces.

The new Protection of Freedoms Act, which received Royal Assent on May 1, ignores all the issues FPRA raised during the passage of this Bill regarding the car clamping ban and it will now be included in the Coalition’s The Protection of Freedoms Act which comes into force in October.

The Coalition’s knee-jerk proposal to ban wheel clamping will not be the populist measure they anticipate as the Government has failed to appreciate that thousands of ordinary residents living in blocks of flats with car parking spaces are victims of illegal car parking. As anyone involved in the management of parking knows, the only serious deterrent to illegal parking is the threat of clamping.

The issuing of penalty tickets is not an effective substitute, because they are very difficult to enforce, as highlighted recently in a BBC Watchdog programme.

The Government’s response to FPRA concerns is that landowners can erect barriers around their properties to control illegal parking. This might be fine for well-heeled companies, the landed gentry and Government departments, but it displays a dismal ignorance of how this can be achieved in blocks of flats.

The FPRA pointed out to the Home Office that:

1. Residents and leaseholders of blocks of flats may not be able to install barriers because the terms of the lease will not allow them;

2. If the lease does allow, or if it is amended to allow (a very complicated and costly process), the installation of barriers, the cost of installing and maintaining them will fall on the ordinary leaseholder, which includes pensioners and the not-so-well-off. Will the Government contribute to this cost?

3. Barriers are restrictive and inconvenient to residents, visitors and trade vehicles, interfering with the free movement in and out of where they live, work or visit.

Federation Chairman Bob Smytherman said: “The Coalition Government’s understanding of car clamping is depressingly naive as they seem to just think that it is a black and white issue of drivers as victims, when in fact victims are also residents whose lives are plagued by illegally parked cars.

“Ministers naively think landowners can just erect barriers, having no understanding that landowners also include ordinary people – leaseholders – in blocks of flats, who could be forced to pay for the installation and management of barriers, if the lease allows it. And most likely the lease will not allow it, in which case there is little that those residents can do to effectively keep out unwanted cars.

“This new law will bring misery to a lot of people and certainly not the ‘freedom’ the Government claims.”

The FPRA argued that the real problem with the system was the rogue car clampers, and the solution should have been to regulate them, not ban the practice.

Therefore the FPRA is calling on the Home Office to work with us to come up with robust regulation of the parking industry, and avoid the unintended consequences of this rash and ill-conceived legislation.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE Gas inspection hatches

Disconnection protocol Ask the FPRA Legal jottings

New FPRA website

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