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.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Doesn't Anybody Care?

For reasons that I do not understand the comments on the last thread have vanished, so I have copied and pasted the post below. Sorry.

It is widely agreed that the torrent of legislation that has poured out of Westminster since 1997 has included some useful measures, some harmful ones, and much dross. Law has been piled on law, Act has succeeded Act, and many measures have simply been left to moulder, unimplemented after receiving the Royal Assent.
And yet there is a simple measure that would stop at a stroke an everyday injustice perpetrated on everyday people that nobody can be bothered to introduce.
I spoke yesterday to a decent retired couple who were driving through Slough a week ago when the husband, who suffers prostate problems, found that he urgently needed to relieve himself. He stopped in a pub car park, and before he had reached the pub door a clamp had been applied to his car, in which his wife was sitting. The aggressive and unpleasant clampers demanded a release fee of £150, and claimed that they had already called for a tow truck that would cost a further £150. Cash only, of course. The old couple were deeply shocked and upset. The pub landlady washed her hands of the whole issue, and the upshot of the matter was that the couple were obliged to arrange for their daughter to transfer cash into their bank account so that they could withdraw £300 from the hole-in-the-wall machine.
Now I do not dispute the right of a landowner to restrict parking on their property. What I do disagree with is the law turning a blind eye to this legalised blackmail. There is no way that £300 could be proportionate to any loss suffered by the landowner; this is a pure money-making scam. Local authority civil enforcement officers usually have to follow procedures that forbid the issue of a ticket for the first five minutes, and their penalties are usually in the £30-60 range. The ploy of calling (or pretending to call) a tow truck as soon as the clamp is applied is simply a pretext to rack up the profits.
All that is needed is a short Bill to limit the charge to a reasonable amount, one that is in proportion to other fixed penalties. Where is the MP to take up the issue? Doesn't anyody care?
The law should protect the Queen's subjects from unfairness and exploitation. In this case it does not.