A BOOKIES has ended its contract with a clamping firm which was operating on a public highway and wrongly forced many drivers to pay hundreds of pounds in fees.
Several people complained to the Observer about being fined by SSS Security Services acting on behalf of Coral bookmakers in Station Road, Harrow, after parking in a side road off St Ann’s Road, which, according to the land registry, is a public highway.
Clamping of a vehicle on a public highway can only be done by public bodies, such as the local council, police or the DVLA, if they have no tax disc or are parking illegally.
SSS Security Services had been employed by Coral to keep the area at the back of the shop clear for staff parking but Reg Bennett of St Ann’s Road, Harrow, said he had been trying for many years to put a stop to it.
The 75-year-old said: “I am fed up of seeing other people getting clamped. Every week I see someone else being clamped and the money they have to pay is unbelievable. I have been trying to find out what’s going on for years but in my eyes it is illegal.”
Shabir Bahji, who works in a shop which backs on to the land, said: “I was fined £450 as I was parked here for half an hour.”
Notices in place warned motorists about the restrictions and said they could be fined £200 for the clamp release fee and parking charge notice and up to £300 for commercial vehicles. Both local residents and shopkeepers were fined.
A spokesperson for Harrow Council, however, said the council does not authorise anyone to clamp on this area.
After the Observer contacted Coral about the complaints, a spokesman said it now accepted that SSS Security Services should not have been operating in that area.
He said Coral was terminating the contract with immediate effect and the clamping signs would be removed by SSS Security Services as soon as possible.
Mr Bennett thanked the Observer and said it would be nice for the people living in the nearby flats.
The clamping or towing away of vehicles on private land ‘without lawful authority’ will become illegal from October after The Protection of Freedoms Act gained royal assent on May 1.