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Clampdown on private parking penalties is hailed
Regulating car clamping is one piece of new legislation that many would welcome – particularly in Haworth.
This historic village is a global draw for tourists seeking to find out more about the Brontes and the windswept moors surrounding their parsonage home that inspired them.
Captivated by the Bronte novels and inspired by the landscapes surrounding the village, some visitors often stay for longer than they intended – but it can come at a price.
One Australian tourist was said to have been clamped after returning to her car ten minutes after her parking ticket had expired.
Former House of Commons speaker Baroness Betty Boothroyd was the most high- profile visitor to have her car clamped. She was clamped in 2008 while visiting the village with a friend after their valid parking ticket fell face down on the dashboard, obscuring it.
While some would argue that it is up to motorists to make sure they return to their vehicles on time, or ensure that their ticket is visible through their windscreen, others see clamping as a heavy-handed way of dealing with breaches of parking regulations.
Those sufficiently disgruntled have put pen to paper. Sergeant Chris Watson, neighbourhood policing sergeant for the Worth Valley, which includes Haworth, has been a recipient of many letters from people stating how their enjoyable day in the village was soured by their clamping experience.
For them, news of the new clamping regulation which came into place on Monday will be welcome.
The Protection of Freedoms Act makes it a criminal offence to clamp on private land in England and Wales. Clamping and towing away on private land has been banned in Scotland since 1992.
Other changes to vehicle laws include extending police powers to remove vehicles parked on private land to ensure landowners have a means to keep their land clear from obstructive or dangerously- parked cars.
The Department for Transport is also strengthening laws around ticketing so that unpaid charges can be claimed from the keeper of the vehicle, as well as the driver.
The Government has agreed on an independent appeals service funded by the British Parking Association that will allow motorists to appeal against a parking charge issued on private land by a company that is a member of the BPA’s approved operator scheme.
Serg Watson says he believes the legislation makes it fairer for all concerned.
Under the new legislation car owners get to drive away without being clamped and, if there is a genuine issue with non-payment for parking, the car park companies have more powers to pursue them to recover the costs.
Worth Valley councillor Glen Miller, whose daughter was recently clamped in Keighley and faced a £117.50 fine, welcomes the move. “I think it is an excellent move by the Government. It is something which has blighted Haworth for many years and other places in the country,” he says.
Haworth parish councillor Barry Thorne also welcomed the move, saying: “I think it is absolutely right.”
Sally McDonald, chairman of the Bronte Society council, says: “The Bronte Society is absolutely delighted that clamping in Haworth has come to an end.”
She says they have received numerous letters from visitors to the Bronte Parsonage whose experience turned sour after finding their cars had been clamped.
Sally says she also hopes it would remove people’s fear of their car being clamped if, for whatever reason, they experience a delay during their visit and cannot get back to their cars in time.
“They may have a fine, but that is nothing by comparison of being clamped,” says Sally. “I think there is a reasonable way of behaving and clamping is unreasonable.”
Lord Taylor of Holbeach, the Home Office Minister responsible for changes to vehicle clamping law, says the ‘common-sense ban’ will give motorists the protection they deserve and will save motorists £55 million each year.
Local Transport Minister, Norman Baker, says: “These new parking arrangements deliver a fairer legal framework for motorists and landowners, while getting rid of the indiscriminate clamping and towing by private companies for good.”
Ted Evans, owner of the Changegate car park in Haworth, was unavailable for comment.