The number of vehicles on our roads and the Island’s limited size mean that where and when people are permitted to park must be carefully regulated.
There is, however, a massive difference between official regulation through public car parks, on-street parking and the paycard system and the exploitation of the parking issue for private gain. It is by no means impossible for private agencies to play a part in parking control, but not in the way that some wheel-clamping firms currently choose to conduct their business.
There is now ample evidence showing that some wheel-clampers adopt threatening tactics when going about their business. It is also beyond question that some of their methods – which include pressuring people to be driven to a cash point to withdraw money to secure the release of a vehicle – are simply unacceptable.
Almost a year ago the heavy-handed conduct of some wheel-clampers was highlighted by the Jersey Evening Post’s Fair Play team. Subsequently, Wendy Kinnard, who was then Home Affairs Minister, promised action, but little progress appears to have been made. Indeed, the present Home Affairs Minister, Senator Ian Le Marquand, has said that the issue is not among his priorities. That being the case, it is time he changed his priorities.
That is a view that would be shared not only by those who have fallen foul of rogue clampers but also by anyone disturbed by the idea that commercial firms are currently able to demand the payment of what amount to hefty on-the-spot fines without well-defined rules and regulations.
Fortunately, Deputy Paul Le Claire has no intention of letting the matter lie. He intends to ask questions in the States on the very fundamentals of clamping. Concerned by reports of sharp and shady practice, he wants to know if private wheel clamping is, in fact, against the law.
Irrespective of the answers received by the Deputy, resolute action of some sort is quite obviously required. Although problems such as youth crime, the need for a sex offenders’ register and the culture and quality of Island policing are quite rightly of most pressing concern, Home Affairs cannot be allowed to brush wheel clamping aside as if it were of no significance.
Highly dubious activities which adversely affect large numbers of Islanders can and must be brought under proper control as soon as possible.