10:21AM, Friday 28 September 2012
The hated practice will be banished after new legislation comes into force, to the relief of motorists stung by private enforcement companies who have patrolled private sites dotted across Windsor and Maidenhead.
Scores of drivers have complained of underhand tactics by companies and being forced to pay sky-high fees of up to £500 to have their cars released.
The council regularly receives angry letters from victims, saying they will never come to the towns again.
In May, Windsor suffered embarrassment when visitors who had come to see the spectacular Queen's Diamond Jubilee horse pageant were clamped in the private Thames Avenue car park.
They had to pay a £125 fine and some did not get away until 1.30am, leading borough cabinet member for transport Cllr Phill Bicknell to denounce the incident as 'abhorrent'.
He said this week: "I'm absolutely delighted that this unacceptable practice will be illegal and that motorists will no longer be held to ransom.
"We want people to be able to protect their land but not by using cowboy clamping companies. It can be done in a more humane fashion."
He emphasised though that the change in the law should not lead to a parking 'free for all'.
A few years ago the authority persuaded one company - Laithwaites in Arthur Road, Windsor - to stop employing clampers. The company agreed to let council staff patrol its site.
The council does not have the resources to offer a similar free service to every company plagued by selfish parkers, but Cllr Bicknell said each request will be treated on its own merits.
The Thames Avenue car park in Windsor is run by Parking Control Management Ltd (PCM Ltd) and is understood to be affiliated to the British Parking Association. This will restrict it to charging a maximum of £100 in overstay 'fines' if the company replaces the clamp with a ticketing system.
PCM was unavailable for comment.
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