BUSINESSES at a parade of shops in Laindon claim controversial clampers are driving their customers away.

Shop owners say they are having to feel the wrath of angry motorists who get clamped and then get hit with fines of £200 to get their car back.

One shop owner also said the clampers, who are operating at the Station Gate parade, opposite Laindon train station, are making as much as £1,000 a night because motorists don’t spot the warning signs which have been put up above eye level.

Danielle Adams, owner of The Chippy at Station Gate, said: “I have had customers come in, place big orders and then refuse to come back because they have been clamped. Some people shout at us and can be quite abusive, but we have to explain it’s not our fault.

“On a Friday night the clampers must easily make £1,000. They usually come out in the evening when it’s really busy with customers parking up to buy dinner. The signs really need to be lower.

“There is nothing we can do about it unless all the other businesses agree to start a petition.”

Clamping firm Parking Control Services was drafted in by the landlord of Station Gate Parade in July to manage parking restrictions.

Six spaces are reserved for residents living in flats above the shops and in recent weeks clampers have been stepping up their action.

Last week the Echo told how Patrick Gomes, 59, of Cum-berland Drive, Laindon, had to pay £200 cash to release his Citroen having stopped for just a few minutes to pick up a £2.50 spring roll from Chinese take-away Good Food. Other motorists have since come forward to reveal they too were targeted and also told they had to pay in cash.

John Dornan, councillor responsible for environment, who represents Laindon Park ward, said residents had also contacted him about the problem. He said: “The shops will suffer and the more people who are punished for using those shops the more people will stop going altogether. Basildon Council has been doing everything it can to help out businesses, so something like this is worrying. The signs need to be legible and the scheme needs to be carried out correctly. You can’t just turn up and clamp people unless appropriate steps have been taken to warn them.

“Clamping is always a contentious issue and for a start if someone asks for cash then that isn’t right. Who walks around with that amount of money in this day and age? It’s ludicrous and needs looking into.”

The Echo called and e-mailed Parking Control Services but received no response.