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'Harsh' clamping tactics now illegal says Keighley MP
10:15am Thursday 4th October 2012 in News
A village blighted by car clamping has welcomed the outlawing of the practice.
And among those to applaud the new legislation is a police sergeant who has frequently had to deal with furious motorists.
The Keighley News has for years been bombarded with letters, e-mails and phone calls from tourists clamped at the notorious Changegate Car Park in Haworth.
But on Monday private wheel clamping was banned.
The Protection of Freedoms Act has made it an offence for firms to clamp vehicles without lawful authority.
Private parking companies will now have to enforce parking on private land through ticketing.
Worth Valley sergeant Chris Watson’s team has dealt with many victims of the clampers.
On the Neighbourhood Policing Team webpage, he said vehicle immobilisation and the complaints surrounding the practice had been a significant drain on police resources.
“During my time as sergeant for the Worth Valley, I have dealt with numerous complaints over wheel clamping,” he said.
“A good deal of these involve people who vow ‘never to return’ to the village, after being clamped on a private car park in the area.
“It’s very disappointing that people can feel so strongly about one aspect of an otherwise pleasant visit to a lovely, historic village.”
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins this week said that voting in favour of the Protection of Freedoms Act was one of his most satisfying moments in Parliament.
He said: “I have had scores of letters, e-mails and phone calls from disgruntled visitors from all over Europe and even New Zealand who have been clamped at Changegate Car Park in Haworth and vowed never to return to the area.
“I have also had many contacts with local police officers, business owners and residents who have been understandably frustrated at the apparent ability of that car park’s owner to operate within the law.
“However, from now on, the ridiculously harsh tactics employed at Changegate will be illegal.
The Changegate Car Park is owned by Haworth resident Ted Evans, who has previously argued that if people obeyed the rules they wouldn’t get clamped.