In Dublin, it costs consumers over ¤4 million a year to be released from clamping. Dublin City Council pays ¤7 million to the contractors who run the contract.
Cork saved thousands of Euro by not renewing its clamping contract in January 2012. Now the city's traffic wardens police cars with the threat of a ticket and a ¤40 fine. Traffic chaos did not ensue and both shopkeepers and drivers interviewed by the Consumer Show are delighted with the new system.
In 2012, 53,525 drivers were clamped in Dublin city. Of these, 542 drivers were clamped on Merrion Square, where The Consumer Show crew came across two clamped drivers within 50 metres while out filming. Both said they had paid in full for their parking, but their tickets were not clearly visible from the outside.
One driver who was clamped because her ticket was not visible, said her ticket was "flipped" by the in-draught of air caused when she shut her car door - a common source of complaints. "I was really annoyed.I cannot go to my next appointment on time," she told The Consumer Show.
Tara Buckley, director general of retailer's group RGDATA, criticized the practice. "What we want to see is a fair system (of) graded punitive measures. So if you are five minutes late it's different than leaving your car there all day," she said.
However, Independent Parking Appeals Officer Liam Keilthy described clamping as "the most successful device for rationing the allocation of scarce parking resources in Dublin City." He told Bill Tyson: "If anyone casts their mind back to the eighties and nineties you would not have been able to get parking on Merrion Square."
Richard Guiney, CEO of Dublin City Business Improvement District, spoke to Keelin about clamping in Dublin city. He felt that there could be an element of over-zealousness when it came to drivers being penalized for being 5 minutes late, or if the ticket they had paid for was turned the wrong way around. Equally, some ticket machines in clearway zones will take money beyond the time drivers can actually park in those zones. However, Richard did stress that a balance should be achieved and that clamping does instill a degree of discipline on people in a city which has limited road space and limited parking.
Statement from Dublin City Council
The Clamp Release Fee is set in law and is regulated under the Immobilisation of Vehicles Regulations 1998.
The relevant section of the appeals officers AR is as follows(Section 1.3):
"Based on changes in the Consumer Price Index todays ¤80 clamp release fee is worth less than ¤60 in 1998 money i.e. a +25% reduction in its real deterrent effect.
Based on the reported +¤7 million annual cost of providing the enforcement service and the average number of enforcement events undertaken in recent years the clamp release fee should be a minimum of ¤130 in order to recover these costs.
By keeping the charge at 1998 levels the +16 million compliant motorists who pay for their parking are effectively subsidising the 53,525 non-compliant motorists to the tune of ¤50 per clamp (¤130 - ¤80) or almost ¤2.7 million p.a."