Protection of Freedoms Bill

Memorandum submitted by Antony and Fiona Edwards-Stuart (PF 81)

Aberdeen Park is a private road inhabited by about 300 households and consisting of a cul-de-sac about half a mile long. It is used as a short-cut by pedestrians. It doesn’t lead anywhere much but gets a lot of use. Many of the residents are members of the company that owns the road. All residents contribute by a levy towards its maintenance; payment of this levy entitles them and their visitors to park on the road. Because of its location, Aberdeen park has been impassable and/or unusable at certain times in the past, as football fans, commuters etc used it as a free car-park; and residents and more importantly emergency vehicles were unable to gain access. This is why we had to introduce a clamping service, to protect the residents access.

Unauthorised parking is a particular problem on private land, where the owners are responsible for the cost of providing and maintaining the road and ensuring proper access and full usage for those contractually entitled to use it. Private roads cost their owners a considerable amount of upkeep. A legitimate and well-advertised deterrent is essential, especially in urban areas; and this is what most clamping services offer. It is the fear of being clamped that is most effective deterrent. Those few who choose to ignore this possible sanction are often the most persistent offenders who think they can get away with anti-social behaviour.

But employing a clamping company costs the road-owner quite a lot to employ; having had much to do much research on this service, it needs to be emphasised that most landowners who employ clamping as a deterrent pay handsomely for the service and in addition do not receive any revenue from it. Local authorities, by contrast, do receive an income both from authorised parking and from illegitimate parking; it is unjust that private landowners, who receive no revenue from those who use the road, should also be denied any protection from unauthorised parking, which is what the ban will involve.

A private ticketing service, apart from being very intrusive, and expensive to administer, is far more likely to offer opportunities for abuse and exploitation, as well as criminal damage and civil disruption. I suspect it would become unworkable and cause more hostility than clamping.

The other solution, gating the road, seems certain to cause traffic congestion in the main arterial roads, and makes an unhealthy political statement, apart from costing the residents even more.

As it is, we presently pay for the lighting, the cleaning, the maintenance and repair of our road and pavements, which hundreds of non-residents freely use. We are not entitled to residents parking in the rest of the borough, although we pay the local rates in full which contribute to the local roads, as well as road tax like everyone else. We employ the London car Clamping Co to stop non-residents who do not contribute anything towards the cost of the road preventing full access by those that do.  There is a civic sense in that. There is no sense in prohibiting it. If there have been problems with rogue or illegitimate clamping services, then deal with the illegitimate elements of the service, by self-regulation or whatever means necessary.

May 2011