NOTORIOUS car clampers at the centre of several complaints have hit controversy again after a motorist was apparently hit with a £150 fine as he stopped momentarily to drop his wife off at the shops.
Brian Reid attacked the actions of clamping firm Car Stoppers Ltd after claiming he was blocked in and clamped and then told to hand over the fine within two minutes before it automatically doubled.
Mr Reid said he stopped his Porsche Cayenne in a car park in Skipton to let his wife Naomi out and was preparing to drive to another car park when he was spotted by the firm’s owner, Gareth Evans.
He had his engine running and was tuning his radio when Mr Evans, who has fielded a series of complaints about his “over-zealous” tactics, blocked the Porsche into a tight space with his Land Rover.
Retired plumber Mr Reid, 58, told how he had pulled into Birtwhistle’s Yard on Saturday to allow his wife to get out to go to the shops when he was spotted by Mr Evans, who pulled up alongside.
He said: “He jumped into the back of the Land Rover and got something out. I didn’t know what he was doing and the next thing I saw him fly under the car. I got out and he was putting a clamp on.”
Mrs Reid, 43, a kitchen assistant, said: “They need to be stopped but it doesn’t seem like anybody can do anything about it. My husband had his head down for two seconds while he tuned the radio.
“It all happened so fast. One second the car flew up behind him and the next he could hear clinking under the car and before he knew it he was clamped.”
She said they dialled 999 and two PCSOs arrived at the scene. Mr Evans refused to remove the clamp and told the couple they had to get the cash immediately before the fee doubled.
Mrs Reid said: “He said to me that I had to go to get the cash or it would double and would keep going up until he would eventually tow the car.
“I asked him if he would take a cheque but he said ‘no’ so I had to run to the machine to get him the cash. It was a really frightening experience. I don’t know how an elderly person would have reacted.”
Residents in nearby Haworth have long claimed that over-zealous clamping was affecting the village’s tourist trade.
Mrs Reid said: “Everybody knows but there doesn’t seem to be anything people can do. I ran to the bank as quickly as I could and was worrying that I would not be quick enough.
“He wouldn’t remove the clamp until I gave him the money. On the receipt it said I could have paid by cheque but he wouldn’t let me. He knows I would have cancelled the cheque and seen him in court.”
Mrs Reid also claims Mr Evans pushed her away so she fell to her knees when she challenged him.
The couple, who live in the tiny Yorkshire Dales hamlet of Starbotton, have reported Car Stoppers Ltd to Trading Standards and plan to do all they can to stop them in their tracks.
Mrs Reid said: “We will do whatever it takes. This is absolutely ridiculous. Anybody with a heart condition or somebody who is frail surely would not be able to handle this stress. They need to be stopped.”
Mr Evans said his company operates within the law and did everything by the book when clamping the car. He said he had video camera footage which proved his actions were legal but would reveal it only if the case went to court.
A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police confirmed they are investigating an alleged assault but have made no arrests.
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Trading Standards said: “We are aware of this incident and we are investigating.”
Car Stoppers Ltd was given the Dick Turpin Award by the RAC in 2003 for the nation’s worst clamper, and hit the headlines two years later when a minibus taking special needs pupils on a trip was clamped.
In 2007, an employee of the company was threatened with an Asbo after hundreds of motorists complained about over-zealous tactics.
According to residents of Skipton, a flurry of clamping – including the targeting of a woman delivering to a charity shop and a driving instructor who stopped to pick up his pupil – has led to a call for the firm to be banished from the town.
Paramedic Julia Shackleton and her mother, Maxine Mawson, said they fell victim when they stopped to deliver items to a charity shop.
Ms Shackleton, of Coniston Cold, said: “I can understand people wanting to stop people parking on their land but these people are totally unreasonable.”