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Residents win battle to oust clampers

PUBLISHED: 16:05 04 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:14 07 September 2010

Katie Davies RESIDENTS believe they have won a landmark case towards clearing their Hampstead estate of callous clamping firm Direct Parking Solutions. The company has been under investigation by the Ham&High for the last month. An agreement has been pub

Katie Davies

RESIDENTS believe they have won a landmark case towards clearing their Hampstead estate of callous clamping firm Direct Parking Solutions.

The company has been under investigation by the Ham&High for the last month.

An agreement has been published by the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal this week - declaring that residents can now appoint their own managers of Frognal Court, in Finchley Road, to replace the current manager-landlords RFYC.

Residents are asking the new managers to appoint a new clamping firm to replace Direct Parking Solutions which was given "zero tolerance" instructions by RFYC to man the car park.

The Ham&High has revealed dozens of clamping cases on the site - with several drivers harshly caught out and clamped while sitting in their cars or simply loading or unloading.

We have also revealed a series of more sinister cases where local businesses have been purposely called out to the site to make deliveries to - or collections from - a non-existent flat and then been clamped and charged £300.

Residents' association chairwoman Marie Garside said: "The residents were driven to take this action because of the many problems they have had with the landlords as well as the clamping.

"We are hopeful that the clampers will be removed from the estate and other improvements will be made.

"RFYC has not been very co-operative over the clampers and we are hopeful, having got this order, that we shall soon be able to restrict the activities of this firm."

Companies such as Parcelforce and Addison Lee as well as most local tradesmen and taxi firms already refuse to do jobs for residents on the site because of the clampers' fearsome reputation.

The neighbouring Holiday Inn hotel has even been forced to set up a loudspeaker to warn motorists about the ruthless clamping regime.

Legally residents are powerless to remove clamping from the car park altogether without the landlord's permission. But they hope a new firm will take a less hard-line approach.

The case result was announced as another business came forward to the Ham&High as a victim of the more sinister level of parking trap occurring on the site.

Mohammad Jalil Taghavi, who works for a Chinese restaurant in Temple Fortune, was called to a flat on the estate last month.

He said: "When I delivered food to the address, I saw the no parking sign and I called the number. But they said they could see me so don't worry and come up.

"I pressed the bell but nobody answered. So I came down to my car to report it to my boss and saw my car was clamped."

He too was forced to hand over the £300 fee.

The Ham&High has now compiled evidence on several cases of this type and is preparing to pass all the information - including detailed profiles about each of those making the calls - to Camden police.

Direct Parking Solutions has denied any involvement in the fake call-outs either by their head office or individual clampers working on the site.

On the tribunal decision, Norman Freed, speaking on behalf of landlords RFYC, said that he was relieved at the result which would lesson his ties with residents with whom he admits relations have become increasingly strained.

"I am absolutely delighted that someone else will be doing the management," he said.

"I have got to sit down and discuss clamping with the new manager.

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