Council man in parking stoush

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 15/11/2012
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TARANAKI DAILY NEWS
Andrew Judd has been accused of assault by Daniel Clout.
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UNLAWFUL: New Plymouth wheel clamper Daniel Clout has been told by police that he is acting unlawfully by not having a licence.

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District councillor Andrew Judd has been accused of assault by wheel clamper Daniel Clout after a confrontation in a New Plymouth car park.

Mr Judd told the Taranaki Daily News he would resign from New Plymouth District Council if found at fault in a scuffle with Mr Clout.

Mr Clout has claimed he was assaulted by Mr Judd and a business associate on Tuesday morning after he clamped a Judd Opticians customer parked in a private car park in King St.

But the two-term councillor, occasionally tipped as a future mayoral prospect, says he acted in self defence during the altercation which he described as a "scary" and "intimidating" experience.

Police have confirmed they are investigating the incident.

Yesterday, Mr Judd told the Taranaki Daily News if the police investigation found he was in the wrong, he would do the honourable thing and step down from his council duties.

Mr Clout, who has recently been in the spotlight for clamping an unmarked police car, said he was approached by the men who had a "very angry demeanour and were being very intimidating".

He said he was forced up against a brick wall by the throat, and then shoved and hit in the face.

The camera pinned to his shirt which he used to film any abuse was also taken and smashed on the ground, he said.

"I expect both men to get charged for threatening behaviour and assault," Mr Clout said.

"It strikes me as ironic that part of Andrew's role as a councillor is police liaison - to create a safe environment for the community."

However, Mr Judd said the clamper had initiated the scuffle by yelling offensive language and threatening them with one of his clamps.

"It was more just shoving and yelling and swearing," Mr Judd said.

"In the heat of debate, things sometimes get out of hand. Given the tension and the circumstances, I think I acted appropriately as any other person would."

Mr Judd said the clamper had been monitoring the area from one of the six parks Mr Judd privately owned, which he has told him not to do a number of times.

He said Mr Clout had every right to clamp the car, however, the fact he had been parked in one of his private parks monitoring people was what angered him.

"I don't want to stop him doing his job.

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"But he's not supposed to be in my car park, looking to clamp others."

Mr Clout said he had briefly stopped there to clamp the car which he had seen when he drove past.

Mr Judd has found support from Mayor Harry Duynhoven, who said he didn't believe the altercation would jeopardise his future on the council, because it was unrelated to council business.

Mr Judd said the signs in the car park were unclear and there was a lot of confusion among users of the car park.

He has previously paid the $120 clamping fine for customers who have been clamped in the area.

"There needs to be a way moving forward so this can be better controlled - for him as well.

"He is just doing his job, I'm not against that. But sometimes it's not so much the fact you're doing your job, it's the way you're doing it."

- Taranaki Daily News

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