Protection of Freedoms Bill

Memorandum submitted by the Federation of Private Residents’ Associations (PF 24)

Re. Proposed ban on car clamping

1 About the FPRA

a) The FPRA has for 40 years been representing the interests of 2.5 million residents and leaseholders of flats. About half of our 550 member blocks are self-managed by leaseholders; they are small community organisations.

2 Summary of the FPRA’s submission

b) The FPRA is concerned about the ban on car clamping. We believe a ban on clamping will have a negative impact on the residents of blocks of flats who have to deal with illegal parking. Illegal parking is a serious problem for many blocks, especially those near stations and shops.

c) The threat of clamping has proved to be the only effective deterrent in stopping rogue parkers. The threat of ticketing is not effective as rogue parkers know they are difficult to enforce.

d) The ban on clamping removes the freedom of those responsible for parking control in blocks of flat to choose how to manage their property.

e) The problem of illegal car clamping can be dealt with by regulation. The current regulatory system is failing because it is poorly conceived. It would not be difficult or costly to re-structure into an efficient system.


3 Problems with physical parking control systems in blocks

f) It has been suggested that ‘landowners’ can erect physical barriers to control parking in place of clamping. The FPRA argues this may be fine for businesses, government departments and the landed getnry, but is not feasible for most ordinary blocks of flats:

g) Residents and leaseholders of blocks of flats may not be able to install barriers due to restrictions in the lease, or the physical layout of the grounds. Leases restrict what leaseholder s and freeholders can do, and few will have a provision allowing them to build new barriers;

h) If the lease does allow, or is amended to allow (a complicated and costly process) the cost of installing and maintaining them will fall on the ordinary leaseholder, which includes pensioners and the not so well off. The FPRA asks why ordinary residents should have to bear the cos t of dealing with rogue parkers.

i) Car parking control companies are often low cost or cost free for leaseholders as their fees are self-financed from clamping revenue. If clamping is banned, residents will have to pay for car parking patrols and management (again, if the lease allows for it);

j) Barriers are inconvenient and restrictive to residents’ free movement in and out of their estate, and are inconvenient for visitors, trade vehicles and emergency services;

k) Gates pose a danger to children getting trapped and injured. This possibility also adds another responsibility for resident management groups to cope with.

4 Ticketing is not a deterrent

l) The idea that the threat of ticketing is a deterrent to illegal parkers is naïve. Tickets are difficult to enforce and the rogue parker knows this.

m) But the threat to a rogue parker of returning to their car to find it immobilised is a threat that works. Members of the FPRA tell us this, and so do other property managers.

n) The idea that the police or local councils will remove cars illegally parked in blocks of flats is also naïve in the extreme. These organisations are not going to waste scarce resources on policing car parks.

5 Danger and inconvenience of illegally parked cars in blocks

o) Illegally parked cars can block emergency entrances. In event of a fire, an illegally parked car can put life at risk;

p) Illegally parked cars can stop access for dustbin collections;

q) Illegally parked cars are a major inconvenience for residents who often have to pay for their parking bays, but cannot use them due to selfish rogue car parking.

6 Regulation of the parking industry can work

The current legal framework for regulating clampers is poorly thought out, weak and ineffective. There is no regulation, for instance, on the amount clampers can charge to release a vehicle, no regulation on the time taken to unclamp a car, no regulation of complaints procedures employed by clamping companies. The most basic flaw in the system is that clamping licences are given to individuals rather than the companies themselves, making it difficult to prosecute companies for malpractice.

7 Whose freedom is the Freedom Bill for?

s) The bill will actually disempower the freedom of thousands of small resident-run associations to operate car parking control systems as they see fit. And these local, community-level, volunteer-run organisations are exactly what the government’s Big Society is supposed to be empowering.

t) While the Bill is aimed at freeing drivers from cowboy clampers, the FPRA argues that freedom should also mean the freedom of local residents to be free of rogue parkers.

u) If clamping is banned, it will cause considerable distress, cost and inconvenience to flat residents and leaseholders. We ask you to please consider the points we raise here.

v) Please note we have first hand documentation from members to back up our points. We are also available to make a presentation to the Committee in person.

March 2011