Thursday, 27 August 2009

Government crack down on cowboy parking companies

Transport minister Sadiq Khan today signalled the Government’s intention to crack down on rogue parking firms with the introduction of tough new rules limiting the access to driver data.

Currently, private companies can request vehicle keepers’ details from the DVLA in order to issue penalty notices for drivers who have illegally parked on private land.

They will now all need to be a member of an Accredited Trade Association – requiring them to abide by a strict code of conduct – to get this information.

The measure is part of a broader cross-Government action plan to radically overhaul the rules governing the enforcement of parking on private land, due to be published in the Autumn. The plan is designed to target rogue firms and landowners who unfairly clamp vehicles or demand extortionate payments.

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan said:

“Where drivers break legitimate conditions set by landowners then it is right that penalties are applied. But we will not tolerate unscrupulous firms breaking the law by overcharging or intimidating motorists.

“We want a fair system that is clearly communicated with an independent complaints procedure.

“In order to achieve this we will be publishing later this year a cross-Government action plan which will help us to protect motorists and put a stop to the unacceptable behaviour of cowboy clampers and rogue parking firms.”

Other measures being considered include a compulsory licensing system for clamping firms which will ensure they behave responsibly and will allow the Security Industry Authority – the body that regulates the private security industry – to hold them to account.

This has recently been the subject of a consultation from the Home Office, the results of which will be announced later this year. However, specific measures are likely to address issues such as excessive penalties for releasing clamped vehicles, impounding cars unreasonably quickly after being clamped, inadequate signage warning drivers that clamping takes place and inadequate processes for dealing with objections from drivers.

The Government is considering how they can secure an independent review of complaints, and how best to make sure motorists are aware of their rights under consumer protection legislation.

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