It was a case of us watching them watching us watching them at Cosham last week as we set out to warn readers about clampers operating in a popular car park.
Given that many shoppers and an expert from the AA had questioned the effectiveness of warning signs to drivers, we positioned a couple of billboards on the pavement outside the car park off Havant Road, carrying the message: ‘Warning: Clampers Operate Here.’
We videoed the signs and shoppers’ reactions for the website version of the story at portsmouth.co.uk – and that’s when we found ourselves being simultaneously videoed from a van by employees of the clamping firm City Watch.
That’s fair enough – they have as much right to film in a public place as we do.
In a subsequent series of emails, Lee Baron chartered surveyors, who manage the land leased by Portsmouth City Council to a private company, didn’t seem too pleased that we’d placed the signs to warn drivers during the busy lunchtime period last Wednesday.
To be honest, we were more interested in the reaction of drivers. Those to whom we spoke appreciated The News getting involved by seeking to give motorists extra warning that the car park was ‘policed’ by clampers.
Usually we simply report on events and issues, but there are many occasions when we become actively involved.
Take for example the Arctic medal battle, the G5 ward campaign at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham or our involvement in the current fight to keep vascular surgery there.
They, and the short-term clamping signs initiative, are an important part of our job as journalists, namely to get involved where necessary.