CLAMPERS shouldn’t be allowed to get away with clamping upwards of 30 cars a day in one car park, sending out the negative message that Carlow town is best avoided.
A number of councillors expressed their concerns about the policy of 24/7 clamping at the private car park on the site of the former L&N car park on Tullow Street, a situation highlighted last week in The Nationalist.
“When you have 20 or 30 people clamped in one day, you have to think something is wrong with the signage,” said cllr Andrea Dalton.
Agreeing, cllr John Cassin said that several people had been clamped and had complained about the lack of signage. “People are not going to come back to the town, it’s as simple as that. Clamping is just seen by the company as a way of making money,” he complained.
Cllr Fergal Browne pointed out that clamping was in operation in a number of private car parks in the town, forcing people to wait 40 minutes or up to an hour to be unclamped. He pointed out that in the case of the Tullow Street car park there was “ambiguity” over which spaces were governed by Carlow cathedral.
Cllr John Pender said he, too, shared the concerns over Tullow Street car park. “To be fair, the rates for parking are reasonable, but there is a lot of clamping going on, particularly at night time when there seem to be a vested interested in clamping them,” he said.
It was pointed out that many people are under the mistaken belief that in the evening parking is free, similar to on-street parking.
Cllr Pender described a case where a woman was ten cents short for all-day parking and found her car clamped when she returned. He called for better signage, proper lighting and proper equipment to operate the meters at the car park. He added that the surface in the car park also needed resurfacing and clear demarcation from the cathedral car park. “The whole situation there needs to be looked at; we cannot let these clampers get away with what they are doing,” said cllr Pender.
Cllr Ken Murnane proposed writing to the owner of the car park and the clamping company and advising them of the enormous public dissatisfaction with their actions. “They might take our considerations on board,” added mayor Murnane.
Cllr Jim Deane described the matter as a “disgrace”, adding that clampers would turn people away from the town, while cllr William Paton said that despite all the money spent on improving and enhancing Carlow, clampers sent out the message “stay away from Carlow or you’ll be clamped”.
Cllr Brian O’Donoghue remarked that clampers needed to be able to exercise discretion, but cllr Walter Lacey said that there was “no point talking to clampers”.
“There are other 24-hour parking facilities in Carlow, but they operate barriers where you can pay going in or going out, which is what should be in place. Clamping is just a way of catching people and they are cleaning up,” he argued.
Senior executive officer Eamonn Brophy confirmed that the council would contact the company involved and also agreed to examine the issue from a planning perspective to see if anything could be done.