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Letter: Questions asked over clamped cars

Published: 4 Nov 2010 12:302 comments

I AM writing to make people aware of the unscrupulous and immoral tactics being used by private car-clamping companies operating in Reading.

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It would seem that Trinity Parking Solutions Ltd, who operate under the name “PCN Services” and are based in Slough, set a trap for churchgoers in Watlington Street on Sunday, October 31.

There is very limited parking for the large congregation that attend services at the Sacred Heart Polish Church.

As far as I am aware, no objections have been raised to people using the vacant parking area immediately opposite the church. The area has been used by regular churchgoers for many years without complaint.

It is true that a small sign has recently been put up warning that cars may be clamped, but this was taken to relate to a designated area for permit holders not used by churchgoers.

On Sunday, the gate to the parking area was left open, apparently in an attempt to lure in unsuspecting victims.

Approximately 20 cars were left unattended for the length of the church service.

Four cars were clamped, and the others trapped by a PCH vehicle that blocked the exit.

Stunned churchgoers were advised that the fee for removing the clamp was £130, and a further £250 would be charged to cancel the PCN removal truck that had been promptly called out.

I understand that the British Parking Association code of practice states: “you cannot be charged a clamping and removal fee if you return to the car within three hours.” The rule seems to have been disregarded!

Police were called to the scene, but seemed powerless to act. A police request to PCN staff to stop blocking the exit was ignored until the unfortunate clamped car drivers paid out fines of £385 each and the other victims received £100 penalty tickets.

How long can we allow vigilante companies to operate in our towns and cities?

Yes, private individuals and companies have a right to ensure others do not encroach on their land, but many other questions are raised:

- Can it be right that car owners are blocked from exiting a site? Is this not tantamount to false imprisonment?

- How can a company’s representatives be allowed to ignore police requests to stop blocking the exit?

- Why is the British Parking Association code of practice, that you cannot be charged a clamping and removal fee if you return to the car within three hours, not made law?

- Why is there not more short-term parking available outside the Sacred Heart Church?

I am shocked that a company is allowed to operate in this way and would be very interested to hear of similar experiences. Maybe then the authorities will act to prevent these unfair bullying tactics being used in our town.

Trevor Cobb


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