Clamp ban may push up tow cost

A BAN on wheel clamping might lead to even pricier tow truck operators filling the gap in the market, according to WA’s transport department.

The clamp ban idea came about after Stirling mayor Mark Irwin asked for an investigation August 2019, as he’d seen clamps used for “detaining of people and their property and extorting them for unreasonable amounts of money”.

His plan made such a splash that before long premier Mark McGowan clamped onto the idea and wanted to see them banned state-wide, and the legislation’s been introduced to parliament this week.  

Other immobilisation methods like “barnacles” that are suctioned onto windscreens to block the view until the driver ponies up a ransom would also be outlawed.

When the idea was floated some businesses wondered how they’d keep people from clogging up their parking lots if they couldn’t clamp them.

The other solutions aren’t perfect: The DoT document suggests more carpark owners will resort to having cars towed, but that’s an industry that’s about as popular as clampers and has been criticised recently over criminal organisation involvement, cowboy operators and standover tactics.

Getting a clamp off usually costs $170, but the towing fees can be $400, not including whatever detention fee the company decides to charge before they’ll release your car from custody.

Regulate

Anticipating more towing, the DoT will “regulate” carpark towing and set maximum fees and set out timeframes for vehicle removal. 

The regulations won’t affect breakdown towing, so tow truck companies will continue to be able to charge a thousand bucks to move your car a few kilometres.

The DoT says a better solution is for carpark owners to enter into “local parking agreements” with their councils.

Stirling does this already, sending rangers out to patrol the private carparks and issuing infringements to recalcitrant parkers. The fee’s $250 a year for a small carpark with up to 99 bays. 

At their June 9 meeting Stirling council decided to halt progress on its own local law and instead put in a submission of “strong support” for the state law. 

By DAVID BELL

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