AA challenges recommended 60% increase in clamping fees


THERE WAS not the “remotest justification” for increasing declamping fees in Dublin city by 60 per cent, motoring lobby group the AA said yesterday.

Policy director Conor Faughnan was reacting to a recommendation from the city’s parking appeals officer, William Keilthy, that the fee to release a clamped car be increased from €80 to “a minimum of €130”.

In his report for last year, which was published this month and is to be discussed by the council’s transport committee next week, Mr Keilthy said the declamping fee had not been increased since the practice was introduced in October 1998. Based on the consumer price index, today’s €80 release fee was worth less than €60 in 1998 money – a 25 per cent reduction in its real value, he said. “To place this into context, at today’s prices a 50 litre fill of unleaded petrol will cost a motorist almost €80 – twice the 1998 cost.”

This meant compliant motorists were in effect subsidising the rule-breaking ones to the tune of about €50 an offence, he said. “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.” Mr Keilthy said the purpose of the fee was to act as a deterrent and to cover the costs of running the clamping service.

The council, Mr Faughnan said, made €30 million a year from legitimate parking fees and one could not look at the cost of the clamping service in isolation.

“You have to treat it holistically. The purpose of clamping is not to make money and we shouldn’t try to think that it is. The clamping service is a key reason why [there is] so much legitimate parking.”

Some €30 million was taken in at parking meters in the city in 2011, he said, so the cost of running the clamping service was amply covered by funds gathered through the overall parking regime.

“If I overstay my time at a meter I get an €80 fine and I get the inconvenience of being clamped. That to my mind is a proportionate punishment. Consider if I’m guilty of speeding and I’m putting lives at risk, the fine is €80.

“I don’t think there can be the remotest justification for a parking violation to be punished at a 60 per cent greater extent than a speeding violation.”

According to Mr Keilthy’s report, an average of 58,059 cars were clamped annually in Dublin city since 2002, compared with an estimated 16 to 18 million on- street pay parking “events” a year.

Last year 58,575 vehicles were clamped or relocated, or clamped, or removed to the city pound.

Some 55,712 (95 per cent) of clamped motorists accepted the sanction and did not appeal. There were 2,863 appeals during the year which, along with 63 stage one appeals brought forward from 2010, gave a total of 2,926 appeals

Most – 2,129 (74 per cent) – were declined, although 318 received partial or full refunds, many with notes of caution, as gestures of goodwill.