"Bully boy" clampers rapped for aggression at Blockbusters
CAR clampers in Cheltenham have been warned about aggression after two men were charged with public order offences after an incident in a town car park.
George Muir, 54, and Michael Bennett, 42, were arrested after members of the public complained about their behaviour while they carried out clamping at Winchcombe Street car park, outside Blockbuster video store.
It is understood motorists who left their vehicles in the car park were threatened with a barrage of abusive language, with one person allegedly spat at.
Appearing at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court, they were charged with common assault and using words or behaviour to cause alarm, harassment or distress.
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Muir was handed a 12-month conditional discharge and told to pay £100 costs while Bennett was fined £100 and told to pay £100 costs.
Police spokeswoman Kate Nelmes said she hoped the ruling sent out a clear message.
She said: "If car clampers are behaving aggressively it can become a criminal matter and we have shown we will step in where a criminal offence is believed to have taken place.
"This was a particularly nasty incident for the people involved and the convictions will hopefully act as a deterrent to this kind of behaviour in future."
The incidents which led to the arrest took place in October and November last year. Muir and Bennett, both from Sandhills Avenue, Blackpool, were working for clamping firm Yellow Triangle Ltd.
The Winchcombe Street car park has become a notorious spot for clamping, with motorists handed fines of up to £350.
Motorcyclist Jamie Lewis, 17, from Springbank, was on receiving end of intimidating tactics at the site – including an alleged throat-slitting gesture – in October 2010.
And Jane Milsom, from Fairview, claims she was frog-marched to a cashpoint to pay a £350 fine after her car was clamped in another hotspot, Baynham Way, in 2008.
"It was not a pleasant experience," said the 45-year-old. "I was escorted to a cashpoint and although there was no physical intimidation they were definitely using bully boy tactics."
Although disputes between motorists and clamping firms are civil matters, police can step in if either party commits a criminal offence.
Following a campaign to bring an end to "legalised mugging" by clamping firms, backed by Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood, the Protection of Freedoms Act was passed, receiving Royal assent last month.
It means clamping on private land will be against the law from October 1. Firms will still be able to issue tickets.
Leaders at the British Parking Association welcomed the change. However, they added that further steps were needed to regulate the industry, including getting firms to sign up to a mandatory code of conduct.
"It is important that rogue clampers do not merely turn their hand to rogue ticketing," said a spokesman.
Yellow Triangle Ltd was unavailable for comment yesterday.