TWO Tory MPs launched a campaign urging motorists to beware of cowboy clampers ahead of new legislation.
Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris and Rochford and Southend East MP James Duddridge joined Nick Alston, Conservative candidate for Essex Police and Crime Commisioner, on a tour of carparks in Southend town centre in a bid to raise awareness of the problem.
Some of the tactics used to target unsuspecting motorists include hiding parking signs with clamping vans and paying landowners a commission to allow clamping.
From October 1 the new Protection of Freedoms Act will make it illegal to clamp cars on private land, however clampers are trying their luck before the new law comes into force.
Mrs Harris, who voted in support of the bill last year, said: "I have helped a number of constituents fight individual cases with cowboy clampers since being elected and some of the tactics dodgy firms have used have been absolutely disgraceful.
“Clampers blocking people in car parks who were just turning around, reaching into people’s cars to grab their keys and turn their engine off and charging hundreds of pounds immediately by claiming 'they have already called the tow truck', we have seen it all in South Essex. I am very glad that it is coming into force next week.”
Mr Alston added: “Large parts of our county have had real problems with private clampers using threatening behaviour and attempting to rip off innocent motorists in recent years and I think this ban is a real victory for local motorists.
“All motorists should stay vigilant for bogus parking tickets and report any threatening behaviour to the Police as soon as possible.”