COMMON SENSE PREVAILS

It felt good today to have at least one issue at Newbridge Train Station resolved.  Eleven motorists had their cars clamped on Wednesdaly last at Newbridge Station. I have been critical in recent weeks regarding the services at my local rail station and raised the issue in the Dáil regarding the lack of toilet facilities there.

I was contacted by a number of distressed motorists on Wednesday evening, who found their cars were clamped despite all displaying legitimate parking tickets. Whilst they all had genuinely paid for parking tickets, they were not parked in ‘marked’ spaces and herein lay the problem.

However, the good news is that Iarnród Eireann have confirmed they will refund the monies paid, a staggering €120 plus €5 charged for the standard ‘handling’ fee. So well done Iarnród Eireann on showing a bit of common sense and decency, especially as the Christmas season approaches.

One couple from Blacktrench, Co Kildare were horrified to find their car clamped. The couple were returning from a hospital visit to Dublin and had paid €4.50 for a full day’s parking with their ticket visibly displayed.

“My husband had parked the car in an area alongside other cars parked in marked car spaces. But there were no yellow lines or signs to say it wasn’t allowed. We weren’t blocking  the exit or approach or any other cars.  The clamper pointed to the information on front of the pay machine warning about illegal parking but I, and many people of my age, would not be able to read that.

“I was told to ring a number and pay a €120 fine by bank card. What do people do when they don’t have money in their account to pay? I was so stressed out that another man came to my assistance and phoned the parking company on my behalf and completed the payment for me over the phone. When I got home, I checked my account and another €5 was taken out for ‘handling fees’.

There was another man with three small children whose car was also clamped; he was forced to leave it there overnight as he couldn’t pay the fine on the spot. Those who did pay had to wait an hour and a half to pay,  before the clampers came to release the car.

With just a four weeks to go till Christmas, thank goodness a bit of goodwill was extended this morning by Iarnród Eireann who contacted my office to say: “As a gesture of goodwill, we will be arranging a refund of the clamp removal charge, only to the individuals involved who paid for parking but did not park in marked spaces”.

The company pointed out that the cars, whilst having valid parking tickets, were not parked in marked spaceds and were legally clamped. However, it acknowledges the increased demand for car parking and states it will erect new, clearer signage to indicate where parking is not permitted and where clamping will apply, plus new signage to highlight the availability of the secondary car park area. They further advised that service users should allow ample time to park their cars legally in either car park and that illegally parked aumtomobiles will be clamped.

A very distressing experience for those clamped on Wednesday but thankfully, a sensible outcome today!

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