End of road for private land wheel clamping in Gloucestershire
CLAMPERS will no longer be able to target drivers on private car parks in Cheltenham under new legislation.
Hotspots such as the Winchcombe Street car park could become free-for-alls as motorists take advantage of the new law.
Under the Protection of Freedoms Act, which came into force yesterday, clamping on private land was outlawed in England and Wales. Now landowners will have no comeback if anybody uses their land to park.
The practice had caused outrage among drivers in the Winchcombe Street car park with many falling foul of parking enforcement agency Yellow Triangle Ltd.
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The company, a sub-division of The Wheel Clamping Company, has now taken down signs warning drivers of the clamping threat.
Drivers parking there yesterday were delighted by the move.
Michael Willoughby, from Cheltenham, branded clamping as "highway robbery".
"The negative clamping stories about this car park probably put people off visiting," he said. "Plenty of people calling into The Golden Mountain restaurant were caught out.
"Why would people want to run the gauntlet with the clampers when they can pick up wine or other bits from supermarkets and retail parks instead?"
Clampers operating on behalf of the Blackpool-based Yellow Triangle Ltd were warned against using "bully-boy" tactics when they were charged in court with public order offences earlier this year.
George Muir, 54, and Michael Bennett, 42, from Sandhills Avenue, Blackpool, were arrested after motorists complained to police the pair had used abusive language. One driver alleged he was spat at.
Steve Davis, 44, a gardener from Bishop's Cleeve said he once had a run-in with clampers.
"I saw them shouting at this elderly woman next to her car there," he said. "She had called into Debenhams and had no idea there were clampers waiting.
"They clamped her car and were being very aggressive when she refused to pay up.
"The police had to be called in the end as it turned quite nasty. The clampers were being unreasonable and were well out of order."
Other changes to vehicle law include extending police powers to remove vehicles parked on private land.
The move aims to give landowners means of keeping their land free from obstructive parking.
An appeals service funded by the British Parking Association (BPA) will allow motorists to appeal a ticket if it is handed out by a BPA signed up member.
But the measures are not extended to all private land, so clamping could still be enforced in car parks at railway stations, airports and port authorities.
Jamie Rogers from Gloucester, 28, said the change in legislation was long overdue.
He added: "You do hear of some horror stories with people getting caught out as signposts have not always been very clear about parking terms."
AA president Edmund King said: "The outright ban on wheel clamping on private land is a victory for justice and common sense.
"Too many clampers have been acting like modern-day highwaymen for too long. Many elderly and vulnerable people have been ripped off by these callous cowboys."
Yellow Triangle were unavailable for comment yesterday.