Clamping crew accused of race to give tickets

IPSWICH: A controversial parking enforcement company has been accused of targeting as many motorists as possible before its contract ends on Saturday.

Two motorists were left furious yesterday after they were fined a total of �750 for what they claim was just five minutes of parking between them.

Within three hours the employees of City Watch Parking Enforcement had clamped two vehicles on the Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate demanding hundreds of pounds in payment to release them.

Andrew Miller was fined �545 after he said he stopped for just three minutes – �182 per minute – to pick up a parking permit from Mansion House Bedding’s factory Beds Direct 2U.

Three hours later the same clampers demanded �205 from Bruce Stout to release his car which he said was clamped as he was walking back to get in it, with the engine still running.

He claimed he had left it for just two minutes.

The owners of Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate terminated the contract with City Watch in July after the company immobilised more than a dozen cars and vans, demanding up to �1,100 to release the vehicles.

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The parking enforcement company will cease its activity at the site on Saturday at midday. But an outraged Mr Miller said he believes the company is now targeting as many motorists as possible before its contract expires.

Mr Miller said that within three minutes of arriving at Mansion House Bedding, his 21-year-old son George returned to their van with a parking permit in hand to find it had already been clamped.

The two clampers demanded a wheel clamp release charge of �465 but when Mr Miller went to pay they also slapped an �80 parking fine on top.

Mr Miller claimed the pair were getting “very aggressive” stating the price would be more than �1,000 if he didn’t pay immediately.

The 59-year-old said: “ I think they are aggrieved at losing their contract and they are out to make someone pay for it.

“It just happens to be me - I would warn other motorists on the estate to watch out, they are clearly trying to get as many people as possible in the next few days.”

Meanwhile Mr Stout, a courier of Ashcroft Road, Ipswich said he was “livid” at the actions of the clampers.

He claims he stopped briefly to drop something off at Ancient House Press on the industrial estate at around 3.25pm.

He said: “I was no longer than two minutes.

“My engine was still running and I was walking back to my car as they pulled up behind me.

“I heard the driver say to the other guy, getting out of the passenger side, ‘Get that on there quickly’.”

Both motorists have vowed to appeal and report their cases to Trading Standards.

Commenting on the alleged aggression of the clampers, which was witnessed by around four members of staff at Mansion House Bedding as well as Mr Miller and his son, Kevin Stokes, of City Watch, said there was no evidence and suggested the members of staff and Mr Miller may have colluded in coming up with the accusation.

Sasha Watson, a fair trading officer at Suffolk Trading Standards said they could investigate what she described as being an “unreasonable” charge City Watch is imposing upon people.

She said: “I certainly think we could say they are not charging a reasonable amount and that is something we can look at.”

n If you would like to contact Trading Standards call them on 08454 040506.

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