Doncaster wheelclamping firm quits

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Drivers and a campaigning MP today welcomed the news that a Doncaster car clamping firm has quit the business.

Following a court battle waged by a retired police officer, Vehicle Management Direct has confirmed it is no longer trading.

The company and its previous incarnation as Parkrite have been clamping unlawfully parked cars in the town centre for 15 years, with some people incurring bills totalling hundreds of pounds if their vehicles were towed away before they could be reclaimed.

One motorist was Colin Parrish, a former chief inspector with Doncaster police, whose car was towed away from a car park in Frances Street last January.

He went to Doncaster County Court in March to argue the clampers’ warning signs were too small and could not be seen in the dark and won the case when Vehicle Management Direct did not contest it.

The firm initially said it would appeal the Small Claims Court’s decision, but yesterday it failed to attend court for a second time.

Proprietor Kevin Cheadle said: “We have stopped trading.

“One reason is business is not very good at all at the moment and the other is that in October they will be banning clamping.

“We’ve been doing it 10 years, but we’re only a small company. Doncaster is really quiet now, it’s just how the town centre is.

“It used to be busy in town in the area we covered from Mansion House to the top of Hall Gate on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, but now it’s only on Saturday that it’s busy.

“The clamping signs are still up at the sites we covered, but we won’t be doing any clamping.”

The news was welcomed by Mr Parrish, who is celebrating his second victory against the firm after its appeal was thrown out.

He said: “The demise of VMD will be welcomed by the many decent, law-abiding people who have fallen victim to this outfit’s operation in Doncaster over many months.

“I have been contacted by old people, people with disabilities and a young woman from Sheffield who was left stranded in our town centre on a Saturday night – all of them victims of the clampers.”

Mr Parrish, of Bessacarr, said he will donate any money refunded by VMD to charity. He has been awarded £320 plus £50 costs by the court.

Over the years, many motorists have contacted Rosie Winterton, Labour MP for Doncaster Central, and The Star about being clamped in areas such as Frances Street, Cleveland Street and East Laith Gate in the town centre.

The Star has been running its Focus on Parking campaign to draw attention to residents concerns over parking issues in the borough.

Mr Parrish said: “The Star has done a good job in bringing this to public attention.”

Ms Winterton said: “IF VMD has stopped clamping in Doncaster then it is fantastic news.

“I have received endless complaints from people who have found this company’s tactics intimidating and bullying, and I have long campaigned for them to stop operating in the way that they do.

“I’ve been fighting to bring in tougher legislation for wheel clamping for 15 years because I want all clamping companies, in Doncaster and across the country, to get into line and stop their unfair practices once and for all.”