Third of appeals against clamping in Dublin upheld


ALMOST A third of appeals against decisions of Dublin’s clampers to the independent parking appeals officer were upheld last year.

Despite the high percentage of valid cases, appeals officer Liam Keilthy said that fewer than 4 per cent of the 57,632 motorists clamped by Dublin Street Parking Services (DSPS) in 2008 appealed against the sanction.

Overall, DSPS did a “first-class job” in “often trying conditions” Mr Keilthy said. However, he again asked its staff not to make “unhelpful” sympathetic comments to motorists in relation to the unfairness of particular clamping incidents.

Any motorist seeking redress for unfair clamping must initially make their claim directly to the service; it is only if this is unsuccessful that an appeal may be made to Mr Keilthy.

In 2008, just over 2,000 motorists made initial complaints of illegal or unfair clamping, about 80 per cent of which were rejected. A quarter of those rejected then took their appeals for review to Mr Keilthy.

In 28 per cent of these cases, Mr Keilthy upheld appeals and gave a full refund of the €80 clamping charge. However, in a further 55 per cent, while the appeal was not upheld, Mr Keilthy made a full or partial refund “as a gesture of goodwill” on the merits of the particular case. In just 17 per cent of cases, the appeals were rejected and no refund was given.

Gestures of goodwill were given where the clamp was validly applied, but the appellant had genuine reasons for failing to abide by the paid parking regulations.

Mr Keilthy made refunds where motorists ran out of petrol; were engaged in “Good Samaritan” acts and had to park illegally; where their cars had been stolen and illegally parked by the thief; where people were entitled to permits, such as disabled permits, but had inadvertently allowed them to expire.

He also as a matter of policy refunds all tourists, unless they had parked in a dangerous or “totally unsuitable” position.

Mr Keilthy declined appeals where the motorists said they had “urgent business”, where they assumed road marking were incorrect, where they forgot the time or where they said they had parked in the same place for years and had never before been clamped.

In addition to the appeals against clamping, Mr Keilthy received a number of complaints in relation to the attitude of the clampers. One woman said the clampers “had made fun of her”, another said they were rude and cold, while another said she was only 5ft tall and had been intimidated by the clampers.

Mr Keilthy said it was impossible to verify these claims.

However, he said there was an ongoing problem during declamping of DSPS staff, saying they did not understand why the clamp had been put on in the first place and that they would not have clamped the vehicle.