Editorial: Private car parks and public clampings

Last updated 05:00 15/11/2012
clamp stand
FAIRFAX NZ
Clamping around New Plymouth has become a highly controversial subject.

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OPINION: NO doubt the many victims of New Plymouth's arch-clamper Daniel Clout will have afforded themselves a good laugh at the expense of the police officer who left an unmarked car in a patrolled parking area and came back to find it clamped this week.

Police are not above the rules, after all - and neither are unmarked police cars.

And from the account of his conversation with police at the scene, it appears they are no less upset when they are clamped than any other drivers are.

Area commander Inspector Blair Telford said police were following up on the legalities of Mr Clout's actions. It's to be hoped he will also be making some inquiries into Mr Clout's account of the discussion which followed.

The clamper says one officer said he would never help him if he was in trouble and another challenged him to clamp a marked police vehicle at the scene.

It all sounded very childish.

Mr Clout has carved out a reputation as a hard-nosed clamper who doesn't shy away from an argument.

His scalps have included a rock band's bus, delivery vehicles, police cars and, earlier this month, a truck which was being used by roading contractors in the New Plymouth central business district.

The Taranaki Daily News reported last month on one of the fall-outs from a clamping in the Richmond Centre.

Mr Clout was convicted of assaulting a German after clamping the tourist's vehicle. Then, yesterday, online readers of the Taranaki Daily News learned Mr Clout told police he had been assaulted after clamping a vehicle. He said one of those at the scene was New Plymouth District councillor Andrew Judd, who says if he is found to have done anything wrong, he will do the honourable thing and step down from his duties as a councillor.

There are certain professions which will never win popularity awards.

Clampers and parking wardens are among them. Even as the complainant in a case where his clamps were taken by a motorist, Mr Clout received little sympathy from the bench.

A prerequisite to the job is being thick-skinned and he has shown that on countless occasions in the past year.

The latest incidents underline the frustration of motorists who return to find a clamp or three on their property has put a halt on their progress.

But the issue of greatest concern is that vehicles which are involved in community work - be it repairing roads or a police operation - could have that work hindered, if not virtually sabotaged, by a wheel clamp.

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Mr Clout told the Daily News yesterday that in the four years he has worked as a clamper he had never clamped an emergency services vehicle and never would.

In the case of the police vehicle it appears there was no visual evidence the vehicle was being used by police.

People who pay for car parks will be as appreciative of Mr Clout's vigilance as those who are clamped resent it.

One thing is certain - while which car parks Mr Clout monitors are not public knowledge, the fact motorists run a severe risk of being penalised for trying to avoid paying for parking is.

- Taranaki Daily News

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