Sep 012010

parking chargesThe Association of British Drivers expresses deep concern over excessive rises in car parking charges across much of the country as revealed by a Sunday Telegraph investigation and questions the legality of some of these increases which have been reported as being as high as 300%

Spokesman Nigel Humphries said: “It seems that some councils are once again using the motorist as a cash cow to fill black holes in their budgets when faced with capped council taxes and reduced grants from central government. We would like to remind councils that the Road Traffic Regulation Act (1984) makes it quite clear that councils may only levy parking charges to make appropriate improvements to parking facilities and other traffic management provisions and may not be used as a “council tax supplement” simply to raise general revenues.”

Mr Humphries continued: “It appears rather implausible that all this extra revenue will be targeted on parking provisions and road management and we would challenge any council imposing increases above the rate of inflation to clearly spell out exactly how this money will be spent.”

ABD Chairman Brian Gregory added: “This government declared it was going to end the war on the motorist yet we are seeing a number of councils imposing yet another “parking tax” on hard pressed drivers. We call upon the Ministers for Transport and Local Government to put an immediate stop to this practice.”

Sep 012010

clampedWheel clamping on private land will be banned in England and Wales. The ban will be introduced in the Government’s Freedom Bill in November and will come into force shortly after Royal Assent. Once in place, anyone who clamps a vehicle or tows it away on private land will face tough penalties.

Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone said: ‘The government is committed to ending the menace of rogue private sector wheel-clampers once and for all.

‘For too long motorists have fallen victim to unscrupulous tactics by many clamping firms. Reports of motorists being marched to cash points or left stranded after their car has been towed are simply unacceptable.’

‘A ban on clamping and towing on private land will end this abuse and companies who decide to flout new laws will face severe penalties.

Regional and local transport minister Norman Baker said: ‘The rules governing parking on private land should be proportionate and should not result in motorists being intimidated or forced to pay excessive fines.

‘Cowboy clampers have had ample opportunity to mend their ways but the cases of bullying and extortion persist.

‘That is why we are putting an end to these outrageous practices once and for all to ensure that drivers no longer have to fear intimidation from rogue traders, allowing the parking industry to begin to restore its reputation with the motoring public.’

Currently, any individual undertaking wheel clamping must hold a frontline licence from the Security Industry Authority (SIA), with supervisors or directors holding a non-frontline licence.

This activity will cease once the ban is in place.

Note:  The ban will apply to private land only. It will not change existing traffic enforcement by local authorities and police on highways.

The ban will also apply to towing away and all other forms of vehicle immobilisation. Once implemented, anyone who clamps (or otherwise immobilises) a vehicle or tows it away on private land without specific legal authority to do so will face criminal proceedings or civil sanctions.

There will be very limited circumstances in which legal authority to remove vehicles will remain. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) will retain the legal authority to clamp or tow away vehicles as part of its work in combating evasion of Vehicle Excise Duty. The Vehicle and Operator Services Authority has similar powers to prevent the use of un-roadworthy vehicles on the road.

The SIA currently licences any individual in England and Wales involved in immobilising vehicles on private land with a view to charging a release fee. It also requires the licensing of anyone involved in blocking in or towing away vehicles for the same purpose, and of those who collect the fee. This activity will cease once the ban is in place.

Businesses are not required to be licensed at present. Businesses may, however, seek accreditation under the SIA’s voluntary Approved Contractor Scheme.

There are currently 2,150 individuals who are licensed by the SIA to clamp.

Sep 012010

used carsUsed car values are lower than 12 months previously for the first time this year, according to the Used Car Price Index published by CAP. The index for August reveals that the fall in values accelerated last month, making the cars from two further sectors typically cheaper than a year ago. In August average values for upper medium and small executive models joined the list of car types that cost less now than a year ago.

It is smaller cars that have seen the largest year on year reductions in value so that a typical 3 year old City Car or Supermini is now almost 10% cheaper in the trade than the exact equivalent vehicle in August 2009.

Cars across all sectors have seen their values reducing since April this year, gradually wiping out the price rises that occurred during much of 2009. The strongest increases then were in the 4×4 sector and average values there still remain 11% higher than a year ago.

Mike Hind of CAP said: “Taking the used car market as a whole, values are now on average almost 3% lower than in August 2009. It is the first time this year that average values have been lower than 12 months previously. But it does mean that this is a better time to buy a used car – especially a small or medium family car – than we have seen for a couple of years.”