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New charge Fee for releasing wheel clamps to increase by more than 56pc next month

The Department of Transport has confirmed the charge for having clamps removed will increase from €80 to €125 from March 1

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Drivers who park illegally are set to face a further rise in motoring costs next month as the fee for releasing clamps is to increase by over 56pc.

The Department of Transport has confirmed the charge for having clamps removed from vehicles parked illegally on public roads will increase from €80 to €125 from March 1.

It is the first increase in the fee for removing clamps in 24 years.

The impact of the new charge is most likely to be felt by motorists in Dublin city where more than 37,000 vehicles were clamped last year – an increase of almost 14,000 over 2020 figures.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, said the decision to increase the release fee charged by city and county councils for vehicles clamped on public roads was taken following engagement with the local authority sector.

The spokesperson said the increase would bring the fee in line with the maximum charge set by the National Transport Authority for private clamping in non-statutory areas.

“It prevents any impression that parking in clamping zones on public roads is less serious than elsewhere,” the spokesperson added.

A spokesperson for Dublin City Council welcomed the increase as the council had been seeking a rise in the clamping release fee “for many years.”

“It is hoped that that the increase will have a positive influence on motorists’ parking behaviour once implemented on March 1,” the spokesperson said.

She added: “Like all behavioural changes it will take time to show results but now with legislative backing, we are going in the right direction.”

Dublin City Council received total income of €2,694,320 from motorists paying to have clamps removed from their vehicle last year – up 11.7pc on clamp fee revenue of €2.4m in 2020.

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However, lower traffic levels as a result of the pandemic meant annual income from clamping charges is down from over €3.3m in 2019.

The former independent office holder who oversaw parking appeals for Dublin City Council, Bill Kielthy, had repeatedly recommended the clamp release fee should be increased in line with inflation.

Mr Kielthy, whose role was abolished after the NTA assume responsibility for the oversight and regulation of clamping on both private and public roads in 2017, pointed out that the €80 charge had remained unchanged since 1998.

In 2017 he called for the introduction of a system of tiered fines to deal with motorists who persisted in parking illegally.

The recommendation arose from the finding that 2,054 motorists had each been clamped on five or more occasions over a four-year period including six motorists who were clamped in excess of 50 times.

A further 11,608 vehicles were clamped between two and four occasions over the same period.

At a council meeting in 2017 Mr Kielthy remarked: “They are effectively saying they don’t give a fiddler’s about parking regulations.”

He recommended that the clamping release charge should be doubled to €160 for motorists whose vehicles were clamped three or more times in the previous 12 months.

The €125 rate for clamping charges will add to further increases in the cost of motoring for some drivers following recent figures which showed the cost of diesel rose by 32pc and petrol by 29.5pc in the past 12 months.

Over the same period the average cost of new cars increased by 10.9pc, although motor insurance premiums fell by 9.5pc on average.

Recent changes by Dublin City Council to allow for the increased use of parking fines as an alternative to clamps is set to be expanded following a successful trial period.

The cost of the fines was also raised from €40 to €80 last month with the sum increasing to €120 for those who fail to pay the fine within 28 days.

An additional charge of €37 is added to the original fine as an administration fee when summons are issued after 56 days if the fine has not already been paid.

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