Jubilant motorist toasts victory over city clamping firm

VICTORY Luke Stopforth.   Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (121226-1)
VICTORY Luke Stopforth. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (121226-1)
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DRIVER Luke Stopforth is today celebrating victory over a controversial clamping firm – paving the way for other motorists to claw back thousands of pounds.

A judge at Portsmouth County Court ruled that City Watch Enforcement was wrong to clamp Luke’s car and fine him £205 for failing to pay and display at a car park behind High Street, Cosham.

INADEQUATE A driver's picture similar to those presented in court by MP Penny Mordaunt

INADEQUATE A driver's picture similar to those presented in court by MP Penny Mordaunt

The court decided there was confusion over whether he had to get a ticket because parking signs were unclear at the time of the incident last July.

The clamping firm now has 28 days to pay back the fine in full on top of the £25 court costs.

The victory could now open the floodgates for more motorists who were clamped between the beginning of June and July 23 last year – before larger pay-and-display signs were put up – to appeal against their fines.

Luke, 25, celebrated the victory at the end of the court case with mum Marie and Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt – who both helped him put the legal case together.

Luke, of Second Avenue, Farlington, said: ‘I feel good about coming out of this as the winner.

‘At the end of the day it was about getting a third party to prove that what I was saying was right – I didn’t realise I had to pay to park because the parking signs were so small.

‘Everyone knew that parking used to be free for an hour-and-a-half behind the High Street before the clampers came in.

‘The fine I was given was extortionate.

‘Though getting clamped was a complete nightmare it wasn’t too stressful setting up a legal case.

‘I had to fill out an online application form.

‘My mum then did a lot of research about parking signs and how big they should be.

‘We contacted Penny Mordaunt and got her on board too.

‘I probably won’t park there again because of what has happened.’

Representatives from City Watch and Lee Baron – which manages the car parks on behalf of the leaseholder Lionsgate Properties – attended the court case. Lee Baron was not ordered to pay any costs because it was not held responsible.

Motorists wanting to get their money back will have to apply through the county court as Luke was treated as an individual case.

If City Watch does not pay refunds ordered by a court, the complainant has the right to issue a winding-up order.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘This is a substantial victory over the clampers. More people will hopefully get their money back now.’

More than 300 motorists have been fined by City Watch since last summer.

Portsmouth City Council is due to remove the firm in June. City Watch was not available to comment.

HOW TO CLAIM

DRIVERS clamped before July 23 last year who want to claim as a result of the ruling should fill out an online form.

Fill out the application before sending it by post to County Court Money Claims Centre, PO Box 527, Salford, M5 0BY. People need to keep a copy of the form.

Motorists can also continue to appeal against their fines by contacting Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt on (023) 9269 7266. Alternatively email info@pennymordaunt.com or visit Ms Mordaunt’s office at 379 London Road, Hilsea, Portsmouth, PO2 9HL.

If drivers wish to appeal to City Watch Enforcement directly they need to submit a letter to the firm within seven days of being clamped.

The postal address is: City Watch Enforcement, PO Box 70111, London, N12 2DQ.