Health Centre Clamping
Complaints: what compaints?

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Mytholmroyd's Grange Dene Health Centre "Practice Business Manager" has just written letters to traders saying that "since the inception of clamping we have not had a single complaint."

This in spite of a petition organised by traders and presented to the centre, and in spite of extensive discussion here on the Hebden Bridge Web, the Mytholmroyd Net and elsewhere.

Another letter from the Practice Manager and shown to the Hebden Bridge Web states categorically that "the Practice intends to continue to allow car clampers to operate on its premises."

Traders report that people are being clamped within seconds of parking, and that those clamped have to pay a fine of £75 to be released.

Judy Edwards, from nearby Milly's Cafe, said the clamping had hit takings badly, with a number of customers reduced to tears.

The Practice employs the notorious firm, Carstoppers. In 2003, the aggressive tactics used by Carstoppers have earned it the RAC Foundation's 'Dick Turpin' award for being the modern day equivalent of a highway robber. The RAC carried out a national search to find the clamper which most annoys the public. The RAC survey highlighted several examples of the extent to which the company will go to secure a clamping. On one occasion it immobilised a car while the driver was asleep inside. Another time, a heavily-pregnant woman had to walk two miles to the nearest cash machine to get money to pay the firm. And it showed no mercy to a wheelchair using visitor and her husband who arrived late at their car after struggling to walk up the steep hill in the centre of Haworth.

In October, the Mytholmroyd Net reported several cases of local people being clamped by Carstoppers such as builder Jez Emmerson who was clamped when he left his car for two minutes to get a sandwich.

"When I returned to my car they had not even finished putting the clamp on but they still said it would cost me £75. It is very harsh. I told them my car was not even worth £75 and I was not paying it. I told them to tow it away." But Mr Emmerson and a friend managed to barter with the men and Carstoppers removed the clamp for £30.

Above and below: pictures of the car park taken by the
Hebden Bridge Web Friday afternoon early afternoon

Delivery vans to local businesses have been clamped.

Harry Balaam, a regular customer at Milly's Cafe, nipped into the restaurant to use the toilet before going to the chemist. Although Carstoppers eventually agreed to remove the clamp for free, Mr Balaam said he was extremely disturbed by the event. "It is so unjust. I didn't have a cheque book or credit card or anything with me so I don't know what I would have done if they hadn't let me off."

The Courier reported that Camilla Mumford's car was clamped while making a doctor's appointment. The 45-year-old, from Cragg Vale, went to make an appointment at a nearby beauty salon before visiting both the opticians and the doctors on the medical complex.
But Carstoppers refused to refund the £75 fee, even when a receptionist verified that she had been to the surgery.

The clampers have told the traders that the surgery has signed a contract with them for 18 months and their protests will count for nothing.

Since October, there has been an extensive thread on the Hebweb Forum. Molly Sunderland has written, "In a small village such as Mytholmroyd, it is imperative that we all pull together to help one another. There has always been liaison between shops and businesses in the village. Surely it wouldn't harm if someone parked for a few minutes just to go to Milly's for a sandwich - her shop is a credit to the village and such shops are necessary to bring Mytholmroyd back to life!"

Jon & Mary Duerden of J.M.D's Hardware wrote, "Our rear door is facing the doctors' car park. We have always parked our car at the back even when it was Broadbents and when the car park was constructed we had in the back of our shop Mr Denis Deakin the man in charge of the whole project and he told us in front of witnesses that there would be a parking spot for our vehicle."

Fran reported that one lady was so worried about being clamped when taking her elderly mother to the doctors, she parked on the Community Centre car park and then had her mother walk the considerable distance to the Health Centre. As fear of the clampers increases, vulnerable people will start to avoid using the Health Centre car park altogether.

Yvonne Dumsday, the wife of a former editor of the Hebden Bridge Times wrote, "I live over seventy miles away and was visiting my Mother for her 91st birthday and needed to pop in to the Health Centre, to make an appointment for her; the chemist, to collect some items for her; the hardware store to buy a bulb for her. Unfortunately, I did these tasks in the reverse order and went to the hardware store first (for all of 2 minutes). On my return I had been clamped and had to pay £75 to be released."

Kathy tells of a woman who who went for a blood test. "She had to starve herself overnight. The nurse commented when the blood test was complete - 'now you can go and break your fast with a drink and something to eat at ........... '. Now the nurse probably didn't know if she was parked up or on foot and was probably just making polite conversation, but the suggestion was taken up and she was clamped, because where she went was adjacent to the Medical Centre."

Mytholmroyd has worked hard over the past few years to regenerate the community. Its businesses need praise, support and encouragement. While no-one would doubt that patients must have priority for parking, does it make sense to have a large car park regularly half empty right in the centre of Mytholmroyd? Especially, when car parking spaces are so difficult to find throughout the upper Calder Valley.

Grange Dene Health Centre's patients are part of the Mytholmroyd community. So is the Health Centre. Aggressive clamping is creating division, anger, bad feeling and loss of business. After six months, surely it is time to compromise.

See also:

Hebweb Forum

Mytholmroyd Net

Clamping firm "worst in UK" - BBC News

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