A weekly newspaper in London is waging war on the capital’s costly clamping business.
Newsquest’s Times series – covering Harrow, Hillingdon and Ealing – has launched a campaign calling for greater legislation over the car-clamping industry.
After an initial launch in Harrow and Hillingdon last month, the Ealing Times has now jumped on board after one of the company’s advertising staff was stung for £1,140.
Ad rep Paul Coleman had left his company car in a Hounslow pub car park while visiting a friend – wrongly, as it turned out.
He returned to find it gone so assumed it had been stolen but the police telephoned him a few weeks later to say they had found it in a compound.
Paul went to collect it with a photographer and Ealing Times reporter Alex Hayes and was handed a hefty bill of a £300 towing fee and £35-a-day storage – to be paid in cash.
Times series editor Rachel Sharp said: “We called the clamping company and asked them what they were playing at.
“They were very rude on the phone and said someone should not have parked where they parked.”
Alex said the trio were intimidated and insulted by a group of men at the compound, who told the photographer to delete his pictures.
They claim that when they left, stones and bolts were thrown at their car.
Rachel added: “We started the campaign in the Harrow and Hillingdon Times a month ago and we’ve had a lot of people sending in stories.
“We’ve now decided that we’re really going to go to town on it and the response has been fantastic.
“We had an awful lot of people say that were having unfair charges.
“People have had to pay extortionate amounts and cash only.
“We’ve heard of a lot of older and vulnerable people being caught up in this.”
Local MPs John Randall and Nick Hurd have backed the campaign which may also be extended to the Times’ Bucks and Herts sister titles.
The papers’ websites also have an online petition calling for fair charges, a 24-hour cooling off period, better warning signs and an end to cash demands.