CITY leaders have ruled out trying to buy back the lease on a council-owned car park in a bid to stop clampers who are plaguing motorists.
Cllr Jason Fazackarley, who is in charge of traffic and transport for Portsmouth City Council, said it would be too expensive to take action over the car park behind High Street, Cosham.
As The News reported yesterday, Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt has called for the city council to act over clampers on the land after a series of complaints from motorists.
Problems began when charges were introduced at the car park, which had previously been free to shoppers.
Drivers say the signs at the site are not clear enough.
Ms Mordaunt’s calls came after it emerged that the land is owned by the city council but was handed over to property firm Lionsgate Properties on a 99-year lease in 1984.
The land subject to the lease includes the car park and spaces belonging to New Look, Iceland, Tote, the Post Office and the Salvation Army.
Cllr Fazackarley said the council’s legal advisors had looked at the problem but the only way out would be for the council to buy back the lease for the remaining 72 years.
He said the council had valued the site at £1.6m – making buying back the lease far too expensive to consider.
Cllr Fazackarley said: ‘Our legal team said it we went to court we wouldn’t be able to terminate the lease. We looked into buying back the land but the value of the site is £1.6m. There’s just no way we’ll be able to afford that.’
Ms Mordaunt was today due to hold talks with Lee Baron Limited, the managing agent of the car park, in a bid to stop motorists being clamped and fined fees of at least £205.
Cllr Fazackarley called on those whose businesses operated on the land to rally against clamping firm City Watch and to call for the company to ease off.
Cllr Fazackarley said: ‘The city council does not make any money from City Watch clamping fees.
‘We have, I believe, a moral duty to residents, traders and other businesses who are being hit by these clampers.
‘I am going to talk with the businesses included in the lease to see if they can put a case to Lee Baron about putting a stop to the clamping.’