GOVERNMENT clampers have been accused of targeting car sales garages in Portsmouth.
The owners of Trojan Cars in Fratton, and the Milton Car Company in Milton, both say they have had cars unfairly clamped.
The row is between the garages and VEAS, which clamps untaxed cars on behalf of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Association (DVLA).
Mark Battye, owner of Trojan Cars, said he had to park one of his cars on the road because builders needed space to complete work being done to the garage building.
He said the car was left there for only five minutes before being clamped.
Mr Battye added: ‘I appreciate it shouldn’t have been on the road but they didn’t give us a chance to move it.
‘Any idiot could have seen what was happening, and the car was clearly marked that it was for sale.
‘This is just extortion, legal extortion. We’re a small business and this is hurting us.’
Mr Battye had to pay £260 to VEAS to have the clamp removed. He has travelled to the firm’s headquarters in Reading to prove that he has now paid the £80 tax, and will be refunded £100 of the fine in a fortnight.
Danny O’Reilly, of Milton Motor Company, has accused the firm of clamping three of his vehicles.
He said the land is owned by the Co-op, but he leases it to park his vehicles. The public have access to the land to get to bottle banks.
He said: ‘When I saw the documents they had they’d said the cars were parked on Goldsmith Avenue, but they weren’t. It’d be fair enough if they were on the road but they’re parked in a private car park which we are renting.
‘We haven’t paid the fine. What we’ve done is closed the gates, with the cars still clamped inside, and had the bottle banks moved.’
VEAS, which provides the national Vehicle Excise Duty service for the DVLA, said: ‘Before we clamped the vehicles owned by Trojan Cars and Milton Park Motor Company we sought authorisation, as we do with all vehicles, from the DVLA who check their records for the most up-to-date vehicle information.
‘By law, our enforcement officers are able to check all publicly accessible land for untaxed vehicles.
‘Trade owned vehicles or vehicles awaiting an MOT are not exempt from enforcement if they are untaxed on publicly accessible land.
‘In the case of Milton Park Motor Company, the vehicles were not marked for sale and as they were parked on publicly accessible land our enforcement officers clamped them.
‘When we spoke to the trader we agreed as a gesture of goodwill to remove the clamps free of charge. Unfortunately, on returning to the car park we found that the land is no longer accessible.
‘We will work with Milton Park Motor Company to ensure the vehicles are de-clamped once the car park is reopened. With regards to Trojan Cars, our enforcement officers clamped the untaxed vehicle, which was located on public land.’