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Police in Haworth back change in wheelclamping law
A Worth Valley police officer said he “wholeheartedly welcomed” the fact that clamping vehicles on private land is now an offence in almost any situation.
Sergeant Chris Watson, of the Worth Valley Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) was commenting on one of the latest provisions of an act of parliament, which came into force today.
His patch includes the Changegate Car Park, in Haworth, where hundreds of people’s vehicles have been clamped over the course of more than a decade.
Among the visitors to fall victim to the clampers at this location was the former Speaker of the Commons, Betty Boothroyd, who was clamped in 2008. The car park was the subject of a documentary on Channel 4.
Sgt Watson said: “From October 1, the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 makes the practice of immobilising a vehicle on private land an offence in all but very limited circumstances.”
He said that vehicle immobilisation and the complaints surrounding the practice have been a significant drain on police resources. He added: “During my time as sergeant for the Worth Valley, I have dealt with numerous complaints over wheel clamping.
“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.
“When dealing with these incidents, I’ve often found myself in a difficult position. On the one hand, I personally dislike the thought that a person can be ‘held over a barrel’ for release payments.
“On the other, I cannot take police action against someone involved in an apparently lawful activity, no matter how distasteful the activity is deemed to be.”
He said that the onus is now being placed on the car park operator to pursue any perceived breach of regulations through legal channels, rather than demand immediate payment.
The Changegate car park is owned by Haworth resident Ted Evans, who has argued that if people obey the rules they won’t get clamped. He has said that they only need to buy a ticket, come back on time, park in a marked bay and not transfer a ticket from one car to another.
Today, the AA warned that some clampers may now try issuing parking tickets.
Edmund King, AA President, said “good riddance” to clampers who had brought misery to millions of drivers across the country through their tactics.