Clampers locked up my wheels in 90 seconds, complains mum

I felt I had been mugged: Joanna Hutchinson in the car park next to Village Cleaners
I felt I had been mugged: Joanna Hutchinson in the car park next to Village Cleaners

Car clampers are coming under increasing criticism after a spate of incidents in Mytholmroyd.

On Monday, a 62-year-old grandmother and three-year-old twins were in a car unaware it had been clamped.

Joanna Hutchison, 34, had parked next to Village Cleaners, George Street.

The clamper then nipped around the back to immobilise the car without the gran knowing.

Joanna returned within two minutes to an instant £150 fine and her mother, Joy Cook, had to trudge to a cashpoint or the car would have been towed away.

A clamping sign had been erected in the five-space car park, but the excessive penalty and the way motorists are dealt with causes offence.

Mrs Hutchison, who lives in the village, had parked there without problems previously and didn’t think to look for the sign above eye level.

“It was intimidation and I could not believe it,” she said.

“I felt I was being mugged in my own community.” Mrs Cook said: “I was talking to the children and heard a clunk.

“But there were builders around and I didn’t take any notice.

“I then saw the clamper taking a photo and Jo came back.”

Mrs Hutchison had nipped into a cobbler’s and said the clamper showed no compassion.

“Within one-and-a-half minutes he had sneaked around the car and put the clamp on,” she said.

The clampers are the notorious Car Stoppers (Haworth) which have been criticised in the wider press previously. Nathan O’Brien, who runs Village Cleaners, brought in the private parking-enforcement firm to protect spaces for his customers.

He said the private car park sign was ineffective.

“I lose business because customers can’t park and I didn’t want to have to do this,” he said. “I pay rent for the car park but people have been using it for hours at a time. I have had to take a broad-brush approach.”

Mr O’Brien doesn’t pay the clamper anything and the clamper keeps the fines.

Recently, the Courier reported on other disgruntled motorists caught in the same car park, which is patrolled periodically. Car Stoppers operate within the law but the Government is looking into the practice of clamping following complaints.

When the Courier rang Car Stoppers, it put the phone down.