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Stock image of a car and wheel clamp Chris Ison/PA Archive/Press Association Images
Clamping

Minister to introduce clamping legislation based on report

The Committee report includes recommendations standardising penalties, signage, training and appeal processes – and prohibiting operators from using premium rate phone numbers.

THE MINISTER FOR Transport Leo Varadkar has announced his commitment to introduce legislation to regulate the vehicle-clamping industry based on a report by the Committee on the Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht.

Last February, the Minister asked the Committee to make recommendations and observations to inform the drafting of the Heads of a Bill aimed at regulating the industry.

The Committee’s Chairman, Ciarán Lynch, has welcomed Varadkar’s announcement – saying the “over-arching aim” of the report was to present a number of possible options to regulate vehicle clamping, both on public and private property.

The report recommended that release fees should be “reasonable” and clamping should not be used a means to generate profit. The Committee suggested that release fees should range from a minimum to a maximum amount – which would be set by a local authority.

Other recommendations contained in the report include:

  • There should be standardisation of penalties, signage, training and appeal processes – and no differentiation should exist between these on the basis of public versus private property
  • There should be one national regulator
  • In order to clamp a vehicle an operator must be licensed and registered
  • In order to obtain a licence, operators must be tax compliant, have a registered office, appropriate insurance cover, and be required to submit an annual report to the regulator
  • There should be a two-tier appeals process, comprising an initial appeal to the clamping company or authority itself, with subsequent recourse to a national independent Parking Appeals Officer
  • Details of the appeals process should be immediately available on the issue of a fine or the fitting of a vehicle clamp (eg on the back of the clamping notice)
  • The regulator should be obliged to draw up a mandatory code of practice for all clamping operators
  • A specific period be provided for the release of vehicle clamps, and where that period is exceeded that the release fee be refunded
  • Where a clamp has not been fully fitted by the time a motorist returns to their car, the clamper should immediately cease and release the vehicle
  • Staff of clamping companies should be vetted by An Garda Síochána, receive appropriate training resulting in certification and  be required to carry (and present) identification, and details of the licence to clamp at all times
  • Legislation should provide for a maximum release fee regardless of whether the operator is a private company or a local authority
  • There should be a graduated scale of release fee based upon the seriousness of the parking infringement
  • Private clamping operators should be precluded from using premium rate or high rate telephone numbers for the release of clamps – instead a Freephone, local rate (1890) or national rate number (0818) would be required so that there is a standard charge

Read: Clamp removal fee should be raised to €130 – report

Read: Strict legislation on clamping recommended

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