City leaders kick out clampers from Cosham car parks

112427_CLAMP_07/07/11''(right) A clamper working for citywatch parking enforcement unclamps a car park at the rear of Cosham, High Street.  ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (112427-679)
112427_CLAMP_07/07/11''(right) A clamper working for citywatch parking enforcement unclamps a car park at the rear of Cosham, High Street. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (112427-679)

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MOTORISTS have scored a victory after it was revealed controversial clampers are to be thrown off car parks they operate on.

Portsmouth City Council will take over the running of two car parks behind High Street, Cosham, where hundreds of drivers have been caught out.

SPEAKING OUT Penny Mordaunt

SPEAKING OUT Penny Mordaunt

Negotiations had previously stalled over the council enforcing the car parks, behind the Iceland store.

But a deal was thrashed out last week between Lee Baron Ltd, the managers of the car park, Councillor Jason Fazackarley, head of transport, and Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt.

The agreed deal will see the council bring in its own pay meters and parking patrollers.

Jim Steward, 54, from Northern Parade, Hilsea, was clamped and fined £205 by City Watch Enforcement in August.

He said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted that the clampers are going to be booted out.

‘I want to say well done to all those that campaigned against them. This news will make me want to go back to Cosham.’

Subject to contracts being agreed, the move will be completed early next year at the council-owned car park, which is leased out to private firm Lionsgate Properties.

Until then the clampers, who have raked in more than £40,000 from 350 motorists, can continue on the site.

The move comes weeks after The News put up signs warning people that City Watch were in operation at the car park.

Motorist Jackie Budd, 56, from Wymering, said: ‘It’s brilliant news. I hope the council make it clear to everyone about the new parking terms because the clamping signs were too small.’

As reported, 180 motorists have appealed against the £205 clamping charges – but so far only two people have been paid back.

Laura Isaacs, 25, from Devonshire Avenue, Southsea, was refunded last month after she was clamped in July.

She said: ‘My ticket fell down the side of my windscreen as I got out the car.

‘It’s just a complete relief that it’s been sorted and I’m so glad the clampers are going.’

City transport boss, Cllr Fazackarley added: ‘We hope this new arrangement will give motorists confidence that they won’t get stung by questionable clamping practices.

‘We aren’t doing this to generate income, it’s in response to the detrimental affect City Watch have had.

‘The car parks will be managed in-line with all other council car parks in the city.

‘We will use penalty notices instead of clamping.’

Ms Mordaunt, who has been putting pressure on the council to take over the site, said: ‘My office will continue to ensure victims appeals are heard and dealt with reasonably. I hope the contract will come into effect soon.’

Neither City Watch or Lee Baron Ltd were available to comment.

Traders celebrate victory over clamping firm

TRADERS have urged people to restore their faith in Cosham following the victory over the clampers.

Dil Dave, 57, owner of Drapewise Interiors, in Cosham High Street, said: ‘It’s wonderful news and certainly a victory for every shop on the High Street. The clampers had been really running the area down.

‘Now I just hope things will go back to normal and people will come back to the area.’

Pat Scott, 59, owner of Mays of Cosham fish and chip shop, said: ‘I’m absolutely ecstatic. Hopefully we’ll get the trade back. The customers were so angry about how they had been caught out by the clampers. Without the newspaper and the people at the council campaigning to get this mess sorted nothing would have been done. I’ve been telling all my customers about the great news!’

Michael Jenkins, 50, owner of Franks Jewellers, said: ‘The combination of tackling a recession and a clamping firm was a double whammy to us.

‘The news is wonderful.’