A THURROCK clamping firm accused of dishing out thousands of pounds of unlawful fines has been ordered to stop.
In a report published in the Romford Recorder, Havering residents have claimed that South Ockendon-based South East Clamping Ltd had no right to tow cars and fine residents upwards of £400 for parking on a public highway.
Now Havering Council, which owns the stretch of land in Parkway, Rainham, says the firm has no right to operate on the site and has ordered them to stop.
The action marks a victory for Rainham councillor Jeff Tucker, who spent months demanding the authorities intervene.
He said: “It broke my heart when I heard that people had been hit with massive fines and couldn’t afford to buy Christmas presents this year.
“I’ve had dozens of people approaching me telling me that they’ve been clamped and basically held to ransom.
“The situation’s taking a toll on local businesses because people are too frightened to park.”
One victim, who was fined £500, said: “We’ve feel like we’ve been abandoned by the authorities – only our councillor was willing to get involved. The council has done almost nothing to protect us.”
Signs list a £200 charge to have cars released, with £50 added after 5pm. Another £400 is added if a car is towed and £50 per day extra for storage. There’s even a £50 fine for cancelling a tow truck. Charges spiral even more for commercial vehicles.
Havering Council first received complaints about South East Clamping Ltd – which has been featured on the BBC’s Watchdog – on November 13, last year.
It wrote to the South Ockendon-based firm on December 24, 2009, ordering them to stop.
The clampers signs were still displayed in the prohibited area when the Recorder visited the site on Wednesday (January 6).
The Recorder made repeated efforts to contact South East Clamping Ltd but was told no one was available to comment.