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City Watch Parking Enforcement director Kevin Stokes guilty of breaching trading regulations
The director of a clamping firm responsible for handing out huge fines to Enfield drivers has been found guilty of breaching trading laws.
Kevin Stokes, 34, of Bishops Stortford, is a director of the City Watch Parking Enforcement firm, which has given eye-watering fines of up to £1,100 to drivers in Hertford Road, as exposed by the Enfield Independent in the last two weeks.
At Enfield Magistrates’ Court yesterday, Stokes was found guilty of two breaches of trading regulations, for a separate incident involving a car park behind shops in Enfield Town, last August.
City Watch clampers failed to indicate clearly which parking bays were available for pay and display in the car park in the Savoy Parade, Southbury Road. Magistrates said “the average consumer” would not have known they were parking illegally.
They also failed to indicate clearly that they charged an extra five per cent for taking payments by credit card, which again could have affected the consumer’s decision.
Stokes was fined £750 for each breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, and ordered to pay £3,370 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
He was acquitted of “engaging in an aggressive commercial practice”.
Stokes was prosecuted after an investigation by Enfield Council's trading standards team.
Cabinet member for environment, Councillor Chris Bond, said: “This car clamping firm was behaving in an illegal manner and the news the council has successfully prosecuted them for their abysmal business practices will no doubt be a cause of celebration for motorists everywhere.
“Car clamping firms need to understand they provide a service, but their actions are always under the closest scrutiny because of the negative publicity the most extreme cases of clamping attract.
“We are willing to work with properly registered and reputable clamping firms, but this case clearly shows we'll do whatever it takes to stand up for motorists and reign in the worst excesses of irresponsible and reckless clamping companies.”
Three people who received large fines from City Watch Parking Enforcement have been in touch with the paper in the last two weeks. The firm has not been prosecuted over these instances.
Retired serviceman Henry Doulton, 80, was forced to walk more than a mile home after his car was clamped at the Black Horse pub car park.
IT worker Ganesh Prakasam paid £1,100 for his three-minute stay at a post office in Hertford Road, and Nick Gregoriou is still reeling from his £1,110 fine for stopping for three minutes next to Natwest Bank in the same road.
Each of the drivers admit they were parked on private land, but have questioned why the fines are so high and argue signs are not clear enough to show the land is private and patrolled by clampers.