Drivers go parking mad over clamping confusion

by Sylvia Pownall

MOTORISTS driven round the bend over a chaotic parking system which saw countless drivers’ cars clamped in the run up to Christmas are calling for a rethink.
Scores of unsuspecting drivers were forced to fork out a €120 release fee to clampers after paying at a council parking meter and unwittingly parking just yards away in a privately-run zone.
The retail half of the small car park outside Tuthills is operated by South Dublin County Council, which does not clamp, but the Convent Road side is privately managed by RFC Security Services.
The system is confusing and poorly signposted and has motorists seeing red – with one clamping victim, Patrick Lyons, comparing it to being robbed at gunpoint.
Patrick Lyons returned from a trip to the dentist just days before Christmas only to find his car had been clamped and the management company were demanding a €120 fee to release it.
He told The Gazette: “I paid at the council parking meter and I had one hour and 20 minutes left on my ticket.
“When I was going back to my car I was even looking for someone else to give the ticket to.
“Next of all I saw the clamp. When I rang they said it would cost €120 to get the clamp off, but when I explained what had happened he said he would release it for €60.
“I lost my mind on the phone. I just felt like someone had put a gun to my head and robbed me.”
Mr Lyons said he observed an RFC employee unclamping a car in the council section of the car park.
The Gazette contacted RFC Security Services for a comment but they failed to respond.
Local resident Lynn Byrne set up an online poll and is calling for more clarity around the parking arrangements.
She told The Gazette: “Even their clamping fee of €120 is ridiculous. I understand the idea of paying for your parking space so people don’t take up spaces all day long.
“But that is not what they are doing. They are like sharks just waiting to try and catch people out. It’s a kick in the teeth when it happens and it’s harsh to get clamped but when you’re over your time you will accept it fair enough.
“But the way they are doing it when people make a genuine mistake, that is sly, that is not one bit nice.”
Cllr Mark Ward (SF) has also called for clearer signage at the car park and wants the council to provide a disabled parking space.
A council spokesperson said the spaces it operates are along the footpath in front of the shops and relate to meters numbered 122 and 123, adding: “These meters are clearly marked SDCC and allow 30 minutes free parking. SDCC does not clamp.”
Tuthill’s, which part-owns the car park, had not responded to a call from The Gazette requesting a comment at time of going to print.

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