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Fleets need to reassess parking policies

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Fleet operators are set for a major additional administrative headache as a result of the October 1 implementation of the Protection of Freedoms Act.

The legislation covers a multitude of issues relating to the ‘restoration of British liberties’, according to the Home Office, including a ban on wheel clamping on private land.

However, while the introduction of a ban on wheel clamping, which the Government estimates collectively costs drivers £55 million a year in release fees, has been welcomed by motoring organisations and other representative bodies, the new law is set to prove a potential nightmare for the fleet industry, it has been claimed.

Edmund King, president of the AA, told Fleet News: “Every time a company vehicle goes out on the road fleet operators need to know who is behind the wheel.”

That is because ultimately the registered keeper of the vehicle can be made legally liable for payment of any parking charge (fine) levied in relation to parking on private land, according to the British Parking Association (BPA).

However, the legislation, according to the AA, has been drafted very quickly and Paul Watters, the motoring organisation’s head of public affairs, said: “It is very confusing and I think the legislation will be tested in the courts.”

The Government has looked to end the so-called ‘highway robbery’ of motorists who have parked on private land and fallen victim to wheel clampers with charges of £1,000 and more not unheard of.

In announcing the legislation, which is effective in England and Wales, Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone said: “For too long motorists have fallen victim to extortion and abuse from rogue clamping companies.

“I have been outraged by cases of drivers being frog-marched to cash points late at night or left stranded by rogue operators who have towed their vehicle away. Clearly this is unacceptable.

“By criminalising clamping and towing on private land this Government is committing rogue clampers to history and putting an end to intimidation and excessive charges once and for all.”

Enforcement companies estimate that approximately 40% of drivers pay up, according to the AA. As a result, it means that enforcers presently receive enough money from those who do pay and generally do not pursue non-payers.

Currently parking tickets issued to motorists who park on private land are, under the law, the responsibility of the driver.

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