Angry driver left in the dark after car is towed away to London

CLAMPED Michael Coombes's car was towed away by City Watch in Cosham.  Picture: Ian Hargreaves (121478-3)
CLAMPED Michael Coombes's car was towed away by City Watch in Cosham. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (121478-3)

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ANGRY driver Michael Coombes is still trying to trace his car nearly six months after it was towed away by a clamping firm.

Mr Coombes’ burgundy Renault Espace was clamped and taken away by City Watch Enforcement because he didn’t pay and display at a car park in Old Market Road, Cosham.

The clampers normally charge motorists a £205 clamp-release fee – but because Mr Coombes had been away from his car for over an hour they towed it to their A1 Recovery storage yard in Havant.

After Mr Coombes went to the yard to collect his car two days later he was told he would have to pay the fee plus a towing charge of £180 if he wanted it back.

He couldn’t afford the hefty fee at the time of the incident on November 5 – so he returned two weeks later with the money.

But the clampers told him his car had been taken to Enfield, London, where City Watch’s head office is based.

Now Mr Coombes, 55, says he is still no closer to finding out how he can get his car back because the clampers are refusing to help.

Mr Coombes, of Ashburton Road, Southsea, said: ‘I’ve rung City Watch more than 40 times.

‘Either there’s no response or someone picks up the phone and says “it’s got nothing to do with me”.

‘I’m absolutely furious, it’s getting ridiculous now. I’ve been up to the car park in Cosham and the clampers there are refusing to accept responsibility either.

‘The only reason I knew that my car had been towed and not stolen by someone was because the police told me. Unfortunately they said there was nothing they could do because it was all legal. I’m gutted because I had paid for my parking ticket – but I put it in my coat pocket instead of in the car.’

Inside the glove compartment of the car was a gold necklace worth £400 – a 16th birthday present from Mr Coombes to his son Oliver.

The car also contained a sat nav, a stereo system and a collection of CDs.

‘The clampers don’t seem to care at all about their actions,’ added Mr Coombes.

Currently there is no law in place which says that a clamping firm has to wait a certain amount of time after clamping a vehicle before towing it away.

Wheel clamping on private land is due to be outlawed by the end of the year under the Protection of Freedoms Bill.

When approached by The News, City Watch said it would only respond to enquiries from the owners of clamped cars.

Meanwhile, Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt says a number of motorists have started filing legal claims against their fines after The News reported how driver Luke Stopforth won a court battle against City Watch. He said he was illegally clamped because signs at Cosham were unclear.