The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Web of Deceit

I walked through the town today, on non-court business. As I approached the Town Hall, with fifteen minutes in hand before my meeting, I noticed the rather shabby car park opposite that is attached to a Fitness Centre, or some such. This rang a bell, since I last saw this patch of ground on a CCTV recording being shown in a trial. I strolled past, and there, in the corner of the car park, was a white Escort-type van bearing the name of the clamping (sorry, 'parking control') company that I remembered from the trial. In the van were two crop-headed tattooed men, feet up, reading their newspapers.
Knowing as I do the modus operandi of these charmless fellows, I was irresistibly reminded of a big spider, sitting in the corner of his web, waiting for prey.
Park in their bit of space, and they will emerge from their van as soon as you turn the corner. The clamp will go on, and they will straight away call for a tow truck to take away your car. The clamp fee is £80, the towing fee £200, plus a per-day charge for storage if you cannot get to their yard before 6 pm. The clampers are paid on commission, so it's clamp or starve for them.
We all know that some drivers will park anywhere, and they need to be deterred, but unwary, often elderly, drivers may simply fail to see the notices. This is sheer extortion, sanctioned by the law. Speeding costs £60, as does jumping the lights. The raft of Blair-inspired fixed penalties goes all the way up to £100 or more, but these cowboys get away with charging hundreds.
If ministers did not have chauffeurs, this injustice would have been fixed years ago.