One of Rebecca's first campaigns as a Member of Parliament was to bring about a change in the law in relation to the legislation governing private clamping companies.
Rebecca was particularly concerned about the number of instances where individuals managed to win a county court judgment against such companies, but were never paid back. In 2010 there were 19 people with County Court judgments against one such company, who owed £14,000 in compensation, who were still waiting to receive their award.
Speaking at the time, Rebecca said:
"I want to introduce a very strict code of conduct on the clampers and if they fail to abide, we will take away their licence and they will go out of business."
Rebecca was keen to put an end to what in her view was a process of "legalised mugging". After sustained pressure from Rebecca, the Protection of Freedoms Act of 2012 received Royal Assent and clamping was made illegal on private land. The Act also scaled back the ability of rogue clampers and companies to clamp car owners.
Several South Essex MPs issued a joint statement saying:
"This Bill is good news for people across Essex, as it will mean car clamping on private land will be made illegal. Too many of our constituents have been exploited by car clamping companies who were interpreting the old law far beyond what was originally intended and this new Bill will help stop that practice in the future, which is why we are all collectively very happy to support it."
UPDATE - FEBRUARY 2022
I was pleased to support the Government's new package of measures to protect drivers from unfair and extortionate charges, with a new Code of Practice to help keep cowboy private parking firms in check.
The Government’s Parking Code of Practice will see parking fines cut by up to 50% in the majority of cases, saving motorists millions of pounds each year.
Fresh measures proposed in the new Code and Framework include the creation of a mandatory single Appeals Service and Appeals Charter for motorists to turn to if they are unfairly fined.
The Code also states:
- New parking charge levels which will mirror the local authority system for publicly accessible car parks, halving parking charges for millions of motorists to £50. It will keep the current £100 cap in some circumstances such as abusing Blue Badge bays or if a motorist is trespassing on private land.
- Motorists will be offered a 50% discount if they pay within 14 days.
- Parking debt collectors will be banned from adding additional excess fees to the level of the parking charge, currently as much as £70.
- A compulsory 10-minute grace periods before firms can issue a late fine.
- A compulsory 5-minute cooling-off period in which a motorist can consider the terms and conditions and change their mind about parking.
- A crackdown on parking firms using aggressive or pseudo-legal language to intimidate motorists into paying fines.
- A requirement for parking firms to clearly display pricing and terms and conditions of parking, contact details and how to appeal a charge.
The new Code of Practice builds on action the Government has already taken to tackle rogue private parking firms, including banning wheel clamping and towing and stopping over-zealous parking enforcement by councils.