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FightBack Forums > Queries > Council Parking Tickets & Clamping and Decriminalised Notices

I parked in a private car park the other day and got clamped by a private vehicle clamping company. I had to pay £140 clamp release fee and also £85 fix penalty charge notice fee for being parked in a disabled bay, so a total of £225.

Basically the carpark I used is a small carpark belonging to a school where my daughter has swimming lessons after school hours. When we first attended the swimming club in October 2009 I was told by the members of staff working at the club that parents could park anywhere in the carpark, it was not a problem at all. The only proper parking bays are those for disabled parking, the rest park their cars alongside the building although there are not marked out parking bays. Incidentally, the only people to use the car park at that time of day are parents of kids attending swimming lessons, and there are not that many of them.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, the school which owns the carpark decided to change the rules and prohibit those who did not have a valid parking badge from parking in the car park. However, my child's swimming club forgot to inform parents of this change of rules. So last Monday I parked up and rushed into the building with my two kids to get them ready for their lesson. In my rush, I did not see the new standard warning notices regarding parking which had been put up in the carpark. About 20 mins after I parked up I was told by one of the parents that someone was outside clamping vehicles, I rushed outside only to find my car had been clamped.

My question is: a) what are the rules regarding how much a clamping company is allowed to charge to release the clamp?

b) I was told I was being charged an extra £85 on top of the clamp release fee of £140 for being parked in a disabled bay. on the Fix Penalty Charge notice I received, there are 3 options that the issuer can tick:

1) Failure to purchase or display a valid ticket. (box not ticked)
2) Not displaying a blue badge while parked in a disabled bay (this box was ticked)
3) Unauthorised parking not displaying a valid parking permit. (box ticked)

Basically the people who were parked in the carpark without a valid pass had to pay £140 to get their car un-clamped because they were parked in an area where they were not allowed to park, where as I had the same charge (£140 to get my car un-clamped because I was parked in a place where I had no permission to park) but then why on earth did I have to pay an extra £85 because it was a disabled bay? I mean if you are parked in a place where you're not suppose to park, what is the difference whether it's disabled or not?

I would be really grateful for any replies, advice. Is there any chance I could claim back the £85?

Many thanks, Elliebellie

ford poplar
Q1 what do PPCs charge?
A Think of a 2 digit number, double or triple it, multiply by the current air temp and add on anything you think you can get away with.

Whilst I support legal enforcement of disabled bays in public car parks (Councils have an EU duty to provide a percentage of parking spaces as BB bays I believe), their use on private land is purely advisory, without legal force IMO
Presumably school parking is limited to those having legit school business, not general public?
The school may require parking permits to be displayed on their land
IMO your approach is a SCC claim for return of 'penalties,, citing the PPC, landowner(LEA) and school goveners (contract with PPC) as co-respondants, subject to alternative advice
When you write to them you may ask the question about Governors' personal liabilities.

From Essex CC website

Each individual governor is therefore a member of that corporate body. As such, an individual governor will usually be protected from any personal liability incurred by an action of the governing body, unless the individual governor has not acted honestly, reasonably and in good faith.

If a governing body enters a contract that is beyond its powers to enter, then that contract is potentially void (i.e. it does not exist in law). Even so, individual governors will not incur personal liability unless they have not acted honestly, reasonably and in good faith.

In other words you could sue the Governors personally unless they could show "they have acted honestly, reasonably and in good faith."

That will make them sit-up - and pay attention at the back!

PS You may also want to post up a copy of the receipt - without your details - so we can check to see if the tow was legal in the first place.
A School. This is one for court action for sure.
As ford Poplar says, in effect the private parking companies charge what they like, the appeal service never gives you any money back, the forum rules prohibit the words that could best be used to describe the activities of such companies.

You will have to issue a Small Claims Court (SCC) action against the parking company; the school; the land owner and the school governors jointly. The PPC has no right, nor has anyone else except local councils and the police to fine you. they have no right to impose "penalties"; that again is the perogative of councils and police.

The advice given above is good, follow it through and you will eventually get your money back. no doubt others will be along soon with more advice.

Meanwhile, scan and post all the paperwork, but remember to blank out personal details.
This is a perfect one for a strong, legal NBA. Governors may well cease employing clampers when they realise they are responsible too.
A School. This is one for court action for sure.

I wonder if this is another example of Councils acting as a PPC. I would assume the first thing the school will do is to contact the County Solicitor for advice.

This could be a very interesting one.

As a side note, before you go at the school formally, ask them who contracted the clampers and why.

You might also ask why this was brought in as the whole clamping on private land is being thrown out soon. This may highlight any involvement by the County Council and pre-empt action by the County Solicitor.
Thank-you all so much for your replies. I feel completely out of my depth regarding this issue and all your advice has been invaluable.

There's a lot for me to take in, but I am going to fight them. It's day light robbery the way these people behave. They are a law unto themselves, and they know at the time, they have you over a barrel because if you don't cough up, you don't get your vehicle back and you're stuck.

For me that evening, I had a 5 year old and a 2 year old and no buggy and it would have been at least a 30 mins walk to the nearest bus stop to catch the bus home, that is, if I hadn't paid their demands.

Also when I looked at the paperwork again, I noticed my vehicle was clamped about 9mins after it was parked up. I parked up at 4:55pm and got clamped at 5:04pm and slapped with a bill of £225! unbelievable.

I am going to see if I can get someone to help me post the paperwork up for you to have a look as I am pretty hopeless with technology.

Also there were 2 other parents who got clamped the same time as me and when I see them next week I shall tell them about this thread. These companies rely on people like me who have no idea about how the system works, about what our rights are and just pay up because our hands a tied and we don't know how to fight this injustice.

So once again a big thank-you for all your help and hopefully soon, I'll have the paperwork posted up.


Hi Ellie

There are two issues here.

1. The clamping release fee. There has to be clear signage and you must have consented to act of clamping by being informed in a reasonable way.
2. The 'Fixed Penalty Charge'. This is a spurious additional charge purely as a means of blackmailing you whilst they have seized your vehicle. Even if the judge agrees with the £140, there's no way they can be entitled to the extra £85.

You need to sue the clampers and the landowner jointly. It's a matter of paying £30 on Small claims court ie. county court is very informal. If there are other mums, you can ask for them to hear all your claims at once.

The clampers probably have plenty of CCJ and will wind up in November when clamping is banned. But the landowner / school is jointly liable and can't escape.

Photos of the signage would be useful.
ford poplar
Ellie, when you see the other parents, don't just tell them about this site, recruit them! strength in numbers and more moral support
Someone mentioned the governors. The composition of the board of governors, including their names and addresses, should be public information, so you should be able to request it from the school (making no mention of the real reason you want it). Of course, you may have difficulty with the court claim - it will be down to the court to see if they will accept "see attached list" under the "Defendants" smile.gif
Hello again,

I've finally managed to get the paperwork posted up for you all to have a look, and see if you can pick any holes with it!

When I go back to the location on Monday I shall speak to the other mums who were clamped about trying to fight this together, and will also get them to join this site!

I looked on the Companies House website to see if this company was registered with them, but it wasn't. Sorry about my ignorance, but would a company like this have to be registered with them?

I shall also take photos on monday of the location and clamping signage and post them up as well.

Once again a big thank-you for all your help and support!


A few thoughts that we can develop later.

A business doesn't have to be listed at Companies House unless it's limited - and therefore has its own legal identity.

A1 Parking Solutions is therefore a trading name of either an individual or a company. Failure to disclose who is an offence under the Companies Act.

I haven't had more than a skim of your documents but spotted words like "unlawful" and "penalty" which I would argue are offences under the Administration Act. They have certainly extracted a sum that they would not be entitled to if it went to court. Terms and Conditions on a receipt issued after payment are not binding on the other party.

School governors make contracts as a Corporate Body. This is like a Limited Company in the sense that it has a legal identity that is separate from the individual governors. The governors do not have personal liability unless they failed to act honestly, reasonably and in good faith. This protection doesn't extend if one of them made the decision on his own unless delegated by the governors.

I would now be asking what other steps the governors took to investigate the contractor. If they didn't even confirm that the company actually existed, it's certain that they haven't seen certificates of Public Liability Insurance and CRB checks. This might not be enough to establish personal liability but it goes a long way to showing that the governors were either misled or negligent (and even if they weren't the body is still liable for the actions of its contractors).

Whether they become personally liable if they continue to use an unfit contractor is one for the experts.

The address, by the way, Googles as Athlone Press, a printing company although they're listed as non-trading. Can't find any links between their directors and any parking companies but I recall another thread recently where a printer was behind the operation.
Amuses me to see their comment that "photos are taken, but are for office use only" on their "appeals" paperwork.

Also hilarious is how on the RECEIPT given to you AFTER they clamped you it says "By parking your vehicle, you are authorising us to clamp or tow you" - pointless much??

The SIA number of the clamper looks valid -

0230013304369090 JOHN MARDON Vehicle Immobilisation Frontline 03/08/2011 Active 02/08/2010
A private company cannot simply print out and issue their own Fixed Penalty Tickets. It is fraudulently imitating a police ticket.

The £140 release fee will depend on signage though. We need to see photos.

Then you need to write to the governors of the school and demand a refund.

After that, if they do not comply, I would simply sue 'The Governors of School XYZ', listing the school as the address to serve papers.
The SIA number of the clamper looks valid

Where, I can only see "Patrol Officer Number" wink.gif
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