Clamping ban could cause chaos for retailers

Retail specialists Johnson Fellows are advising clients on how they can continue to enforce parking fines when new legislation to ban private wheel clamping comes into force next month.

Wheel clamping without lawful authority will be banned in England and Wales from 1 October 2012, with anyone breaking the law facing criminal charges and a fine.

Birmingham-based chartered surveyors Johnson Fellows is working with landlords and retail occupiers to identify alternative enforcement methods following fears that relaxed parking regulations could further damage the retail sector.

Angela Sheen, associate partner at Johnson Fellows, said: “There is a genuine worry that the new clamping ban will encourage members of the public to park where they like, which could lead to service areas and access roads being blocked. This could have an impact on retailers receiving their deliveries, which in turn could affect trade when stock isn’t available.”

The ban will prevent most clamping and towing by anyone other than the police, local authorities, Government agencies such as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) – plus other bodies acting in accordance with statutory or other powers, such as railway stations and airports. Bodies with lawful authority to clamp and tow may continue to contract out this work to private companies.

However, there are alternatives to clamping. Instead of hiring private clamping firms, car park owners will now be able to install ticket machines and set their own parking ticket fines. The new law means the ticket will be legally enforceable and carry the same weight as if a traffic warden had issued it. For companies who don’t want to handle face-to-face confrontations with motorists there are online schemes such as FlashPark. FlashPark – a UK-based car parking enforcement agency – allows you to issue an on-the-spot parking charge to a vehicle that is parked in violation of your parking regulations.

Business owners can solve their parking problems simply by providing a digital photograph of the vehicle parked in the offending position. Once a photo has been uploaded a parking charge notice is sent automatically by post to the vehicle’s registered owner.

Angela added: “The clamping ban has the potential to hit retailers hard as they may have to pay for the ticketing equipment and hire someone to patrol the car park and issue tickets.”

Johnson Fellows is one of the leading retail agencies in the country, having been established in 1984. The company has assisted in the expansion of retailers from their initial units through to being national multiples.