Clamper makes £10m

A CONTROVERSIAL car clamping boss has boasted how he has made an astonishing £10 MILLION from towing away motorists.

Walton Wilkins, who runs Midway Parks in Saltley, Birmingham, has made a fortune from motorists’ misery.

His fleet of tow trucks patrols private car parks across the city, whisking away vehicles when their tickets expire – leaving drivers facing costly release fees.

In August the Government announced plans to ban clamping on private land.

But for brazen Mr Wilkins, 46, the changes hold no fear – because he has already made a fortune.

“I am on about GBP10 million from clamping,” he bragged.

“The bill is coming through to ban it, so I’ve not really got any thoughts on it. I will be rich and happy in my heart, money doesn’t make happiness.”

The controversial firm has faced a large number of complaints from drivers, who have been charged hundreds of pounds to get their motors back.

But the firm has been quick to cash in on Midland motorists.

Steve Grant had to fork out GBP430 to get his vehicle back after his ticket expired in a car park near Broad Street last Saturday night.

The construction manager, 63 from Edgbaston claims he was just seven minutes late returning to his Vauxhall Insignia, but it had been towed away.

“OK  rules were broken I held my hands up and was prepared to take the penalty,” said Mr Grant.

“But I was charged GBP430 to get it back. Of that GBP80 was for storing the car on Saturday and Sunday when the place wasn’t even open to get it back.

“When I discovered what the fee for releasing my car was, I checked to see if the attendant was wearing a mask. Even Dick Turpin had the decency to wear a mask so you knew you were being robbed.”

When confronted, wealthy Mr Wilkins defended his firm’s tactics and disputed Mr Grant’s claims he was only seven minutes late.

“I don’t see what the complaint is,” the clamper said.

“We don’t open 24 hours. Is the council compound open 24 hours? No, it isn’t.

“We are not doing anything which any other enforcement company doesn’t do.”

He added: “I’ve checked our records and the ticket expired at 10.08pm. We put the clamp on at 10.15pm and then lifted it at 10.35pm. He must’ve got back later than that, otherwise he would have seen the lads there.”

In August last year Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone announced plans to ban firms clamping cars on private land.

Speaking at the time, she said: “So many people find themselves unwittingly clamped by rogue clampers, who then charge exorbitant fees.

“We’ve tried to make this work by licensing individuals, but companies who are responsible for the setting of fees and placement of signs have not responded.

“In Scotland they banned it in 1992 perfectly successfully, we are now following suit.”

Mr Grant is just the latest in a long line of customers with complaints against Midway Parks. In April 2009 Emily Ritson, 18, was told she would have to pay GBP390 to release her clamped Ford Ka by the Birmingham firm.

The teenager was left stranded 80 miles from her home in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, as the company would not accept a credit card payment over the phone from her dad. Miss Ritson eventually won the charges back in a small claims court hearing. The judge ruled Midway’s signs did not make it clear cars would be clamped if their parking tickets expired.

Land Rover worker Felix Cole also successfully took the firm to the small claims court in 2010.

He had pulled up outside the Fox and Goose, in Washwood Heath, Birmingham in a car park reserved for customers and visited a cashpoint before entering the pub as a paying punter.

Only when he left to retrieve cigarettes from his car did he discover it had been clamped by Midway Parks, which then charged him GBP350 for it to be released.

Mr Cole, 41, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, took his complaint to Birmingham County Court, where it was upheld and the company was ordered to fork out GBP445 in compensation and legal fees.

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