Portchester school bus targeted by clampers outside Portsmouth hotel

NOT HAPPY Portchester Community School's deputy headteacher Alec Roberts, and inset, parking signs
NOT HAPPY Portchester Community School's deputy headteacher Alec Roberts, and inset, parking signs

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A DEPUTY head has criticised clampers who targeted his school’s minibus minutes after it was inadvertently parked two yards onto private property.

Alec Roberts, of Portchester Community School, was left fuming when he was forced to pay £180 to remove the clamp outside the Etap Hotel, in Fratton, Portsmouth, after dropping off a group of visiting Italian students.

The parking signs

The parking signs

The minibus driver had pulled into the hotel’s forecourt – not realising that half the drive belonged to Safestore who contract White’s car park solutions to clamp trespassers.

Mr Roberts said: ‘It was 9.30pm and dark and we were the only vehicle in sight. We didn’t see the signs, but no sooner than I was warned by the receptionist when we set foot in the hotel than the clamper had blocked us in like a spider trapping a fly.

‘I ran out to explain the genuine mistake – we had only been there a few minutes and the minibus was parked just 6ft on the wrong side.

‘But the clamper was rude and obnoxious and told me to “talk to the hand” as he threatened to charge £250 the next day if I didn’t pay up on the spot.’

The clamping firm had operated within the law, but Mr Roberts said he tried unsuccessfully to appeal to the clamper’s better nature by pointing out the charge would directly penalise a local school – and the taxpayer – in difficult economic times.

He said: ‘Our school can ill afford the fine, especially as our budget allocation this year is £100,000 less than last year. I’m disgusted at the unfairness of it all. We could have bought a computer or 30 exercise books with that money.’

Jason White, owner of White’s Car Park solutions, denied that his clamper had been rude to Mr Roberts. He said: ‘There are five visible signs to the entrance of the car park with a further three signs around the car park.

‘We have to treat everybody as equals – just because he’s a teacher, what gives him the preferential treatment to have a refund?’

Stuart Beavers, of Safestore, said the vehicle was ‘clearly in breach of our parking policy’.

The News has reported several run-ins with White’s clampers in the area, including Pompey fans, taxi driver Naj Quder whose car was towed, Daniel Holden, who staged a seven-hour sit-in in the Safestore carpark and tourist Jerome Keeney, who was also clamped near the Etap and who vowed never to return to Portsmouth.