A CLAMPING company which charged drivers up to £465 to release their car is no longer recognised by the British Parking Association (BPA).
The BPA said City Watch Parking Enforcement Ltd was not meeting the “required standards” due to charging in excess of the amounts specified in its code of practice and has now left its Approved Operator Scheme (AOS).
The company had been operating in private car parks throughout Waltham Forest, including in petrol station forecourts, where drivers were charged hundreds of pounds to have a clamp released - including one driver who refused to leave his car for eight hours in protest.
The AOS is intended to provide self-regulation to parking management on private land, but there is currently no legal requirement for companies to follow the BPA’s guidelines.
This could change though if the Government's Crime and Security Bill becomes law, which would introduce a maximum fee for releasing clamped cars and a requirement for clampers to be registered and implement an appeal system.
The bill is currently being read in the House of Lords, but Walthamstow MP Neil Gerrard, who supports the Bill, said he cannot predict the likelihood of it being passed before the general elections.
He said: “It is good the BPA has taken notice, but it doesn't stop someone else coming along, so until we get proper regulation, there is still a potential problem.”
We tried to contact City Watch for a comment, but its telephone number and website are currently out of action.
A BPA spokeswoman said: “The BPA always strives to work with members of the Approved Operator Scheme to ensure that any potential breaches of the code of practice are remedied, as this is in the best interests of the motorist.
"Unfortunately, in some cases, members are unable to comply with the code and cannot remain in the scheme.
"The BPA would welcome further regulation of the private parking industry. We are currently working with the government to introduce an independent appeals process which will bring greater transparency and fairness to the sector.”