Thursday 20 October 2016

Mayor rejects bid to introduce €130 clamping penalty

The Clampers at work on the West side of Merrion Square.
The Clampers at work on the West side of Merrion Square.

A PROPOSAL to increase the clamping fine from €80 to €130 has been criticised by motorists, AA Roadwatch and the Lord Mayor.

An annual report by Dublin City Council's parking appeals officer, Bill Keilthy, outlined that there hasn't been a rise in clamping fines since 1998, and that the current penalty no longer acts as a deterrent to illegal parking.

Mr Keilthy was speaking as the City Council revealed that 56,000 motorists had their vehicles clamped last year.

Lord Mayor Christy Burke hit out at the proposed increase, saying he found it unacceptable.

"To increase what is already a high charge when people are already facing more charges and expenses in life is wrong," Mr Burke told the Herald.

"I accept there has to be a charge, and that people who do not obey the pay-and-display rules need to know there are penalties," he explained.

"But a €130 fine on people who may be genuinely bringing someone to a hospital or attending a medical appointment, delivering meals on wheels, or a doctor on call, is wrong," he added.

The clampers were out in force again yesterday in the Merrion Square West area, which, at 733 instances, had the highest number of vehicles clamped last year.


One clamper, who has been working with the council for 16 years, described the abuse they receive on a regular basis.

"We get abused and threatened all the time. Not so much around here, but very recently I was clamping a car on Parnell Street when the owner of the vehicle arrived and threatened to slit my throat. He wasn't messing either, it was a genuine threat," the clamper said.

Motorist Stefan Macko, who was buying a parking ticket at the clamping 'hot spot' on Merrion Square, disagreed with the proposal to increase the fine, saying it would deter people from visiting the area in fear of getting clamped.

"I think it wouldn't be favourable for tourism as well as general people coming in the area," he said

"It definitely would be a turn-off. Sometimes you can get held up while you're about, and then you come back to find your car clamped. Nearly doubling the fine wouldn't be the right thing to do," Mr Macko added.

Figures show that more than 2,300 drivers have been clamped between four and 50 times over the past four years with one person caught 55 times - an average of once every three to four weeks.


Clamping services cost approximately €7m, but the revenue it brings in amounts to only €4.2m. Mr Keilthy said law-abiding motorists are subsidising clamping through the charges they pay for on-street parking.

However, Conor Faughnan, of AA Roadwatch, believes that the money made from clamping should not have to finance the service, and described the proposed increases as "completely disproportionate".

"This was discussed about two years ago and we still have the same stance, it's absurd, unacceptable and completely disproportionate.

"It's also pleasing to note that Christy Burke is also against any proposed increase to clamping fines," Mr Faughnan said.


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