Thursday, 22 January 2015
Vehicle Clamping Bill 2014 [Seanad]: Second Stage
I thank the Minister for bringing forward the Bill which is very welcome and part of Fine Gael policy. We have had a serious issue in my area with clamping, particularly in private car parks. I am in favour of car parking spaces being turned over quickly, particularly on main streets, because that is what traders in towns want. However, I have a real problem with clamping in private car parks which I have experienced on a number of occasions. As Deputy Martin Heydon said, there is a variety of release charges applied and I am delighted that we have been able to make a decision on what the maximum release charge should be.
I encourage the Minister to encourage private car parking operators to move to using the barrier method. This is not social policy; it has more to do with car use policy. I encourage private car park operators to, where possible, use a method where people pay based on the length of time they use a car park. The key factor, particularly in Naas, is that people should shop and want to spend money in the town. They should not be distracted in having to rush out to pay their car fee while they are buying an article of clothing. Sometimes they will try on four or five items of clothing and forget that the time is up. They then find that their vehicle has been clamped. As a result, they will talk to others and ask why should they should shop in the town because every time they do so, their vehicle is clamped. They will talk about how they are put under under pressure when they shop. I ask the Minister to look at whatever methods he can find to encourage more private car park operators to use a method where people pay based on the length of time they use a car park. Perhaps the rates charged might be looked at. Perhaps we might have a situation where one pays a higher rate to the local authority than if one use was to use the barrier method in a private car park. Perhaps tax breaks might be given to those who operate barrier car parking systems in order that people would not be under pressure to leave shops and rush back.
We have a good deal of out-of-town shopping centres which discourage people from coming into town centres. Deputy Martin Heydon spoke about the planning laws. Is there any possibility of increasing the local rate for out-of-town units that provide free parking spaces because they discourage people from going into the centre of town? I hope the Minister will take these two ideas on board to encourage the greater use of barrier systems in private car parks in towns in order that people will be able to spend their money not on having their vehicles released but in shops in towns.
I welcome the Bill and encourage the Minister to look at other angles. It is important that the public understand that wherever vehicles could be clamped there is consistency across the country and that the system is fair and equitable. I will be supporting the Bill and again encourage the Minister to have a look at barrier systems in private car parks to see if he can encourage their use.