Two of Cayman’s parking management services steadfastly claimed Monday they can legally clamp the tyres of unauthorised cars parked in spots designated for particular companies on private property.
The claims came after Cabinet Minister Arden McLean berated owners of commercial properties and parking service companies for not knowing the laws.
‘I think you should know the law before you get in the business,’ he said.
Mr. McLean took a personal interest in the issue at the Cabinet press briefing last Friday.
‘I was a recent victim of the locking of tyres,’ he said.
Mr. McLean said that under the Development and Planning Regulations, there are no provisions for the designating of parking spaces to any person or company in particular.
‘There’s only a minimum requirement of parking.’
Those requirements call for parking spaces at least eight feet by 16 feet in size. Churches are required to have one space per 12 seats; cinemas, theatres and places of public assembly are required to have one space per six seats; clubs, restaurants, recreation halls and bars, are required to have on space per 200 square feet of building; and commercial developments are required to have one space per 300 square feet, except in the central George Town OPY registration, where one parking space per 500 square feet of building.
Mr. McLean said the only way developers could have designated parking was if that parking was over and above what was required by the Development and Planning Law.
Mr. McLean maintained that as long as a people are visiting the building where they parked, they can park wherever they want, as long as it is not in spaces designated for disabled people.
‘It goes without saying that anyone can use those parking spots if they are visiting the building,’ he said. ‘If one is not visiting an establishment, you are breaking the law.
‘It is unfortunate that we’re having these services locking wheels when they are unaware of the law,’ he said. ‘My suggestion if for the proprietors and operators of these services to find out what the law is.’
When Mr. McLean had his car clamped recently, he refused to pay the fine.
‘I called the police and I didn’t pay,’ he said.
Judy Bellafonte, owner and manager of National Security Service Ltd., which also offers a wheel locking service, said the police have always supported her company when called to the scene of a clamping.
‘The police have stood up for us,’ she said, adding that the police have often explained to the person that they were parked where they should not have been parked.
National Security Service’s clients, who are sometimes the tenants and sometimes the building owners, typically give the company a list of the licence plate numbers of vehicles authorised to park in particular spots. If an unauthorised vehicle is parked in the spot, Mrs. Bellafonte’s company is instructed to clamp the tyre of the offending vehicle.
In some cases, people who have had their wheels clamped have destroyed the clamp, and Mrs. Bellafonte said police have made the offender sign a paper saying they will pay for the cost of replacing the clamp.
Mrs. Bellafonte said she does not see why owners of private property cannot designate parking spaces to their tenants. And while there may be no provisions in the Development and Planning Law allowing the designation of parking spaces, there is also no provision that forbids it, Mrs. Bellafonte pointed out.
‘(Mr. McLean) can say there is no law allowing for wheel clamping, but there’s no law that says we can’t,’ she said. ‘As far as I’m concerned, it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other,’ she said.
Stuart Bostock, managing director of Parking Management Services, said his company knows the law very well, having sought the advice of legal counsel and the Attorney General on more than one occasion.
‘Before commencing trading almost three years ago, we invested in attorneys to seek clarification of the law,’ Mr. Bostock said, noting that his legal advice was that wheel clamping is permissible.
‘We were advised that if a motorist parks a vehicle on a private property and there is clear indication in the form of warning signs, that a vehicle parked without proper authority can be clamped and released upon the payment of a proper fee,’ Mr. Bostock said.
‘We confirmed that position as recently as November of last year with the Attorney General,’ he said. ‘To the best of my knowledge, we are operating within the boundaries of the law.’
Mr. Bostock said that because of Mr. McLean’s comments, he was once again seeking legal clarification of the matter ‘to determine the exact position of government’.
When asked to clarify the matter as a point of law, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Services said it was referring the matter to the legal department, which had not responded to posed questions by press time.