Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Spirit of Christmas - Part Two

At the risk of being accused of even more Christmas humbuggery, I bring you: The Spirit of Christmas – Part Two.

Stranded motorists, who were forced to abandon their cars in a pub car park when a blizzard whipped up a white out in Hampshire this week, were dismayed to discover their cars had been clamped. That’s right! Only in England at Christmas time could the spirit of yuletide be so cruelly crushed.

For those readers in other countries who still fondly imagine this land as Merry Old England where everyone is tolerant, fair and the snow brings forth little children with upturned apple cheeks and a community spirit that harks back to the Blitz can think again.

The immobilised motorists were stranded when some of the worst snow conditions for many years swept across the UK this week. Particularly badly hit was the county of Hampshire. Roads came to a standstill and with no possibility of reaching home; motorists abandoned their cars and made their way home on foot. Some poor unfortunate souls carefully parked their vehicles off the road in the car park of the Roebuck Inn, in Winchester rather than block the road even further.

Unfortunately, when the drivers returned next day to collect their vehicles, a private security firm had beat them to it and clamped all the cars that had been parked up for the night and was demanding up to £157.50 to release each car.

A delightfully festive spokesman for the clamping company claimed motorists should have parked their cars by the side of the road instead… presumably where other sliding vehicles could crash into them. The soulless drone added: “They weren’t forced to leave their cars in the car park of the Roebuck Inn. The last place you would want to leave a car would be where there are legally placed clamping signs.”

A statement on the company’s website read: “People who use private car parks without authorisation are not only extremely inconsiderate but sticking a proverbial two fingers up at the landowner. We provide a service that gives people their car parks back.”

That last comment is utterly priceless. It’s a bit like kidnappers claiming they offer a service that gives people their loved ones back.

Once again, Britain leads the way in spiteful petty minded nastiness. Whatever happened to the British sense of fair play and tolerance?

Sorry, forget I asked that!


  1. As I arrived at work this morning I found some inconsiderate **** had parked their car in my parking space/delivery bay, of which I have a grand total of one attached to my business.

    Unloading the stock that I had bought from the cash and carry became an even more difficult task as I had to carry it far further and over ice.

    Not fun at the best of times.

    Even more not fun as my previously broken ankle doesn't particularly like the cold.

    I'm just saying ... ... ...

  2. I can see two sides but I think the pub is probably as annoyed as the drivers who were clamped... The PR must have been a disaster. The problem is, once a car park owner signs up to one of these services they're powerless to do anything. And whatever anyone says £157.50 is daylight robbery.

  3. I'd be going back to get my car with an oxy set, or an angle grinder.... Clamp?? what clamp?

    Bastards !

  4. These clampers are within the law (just?)but are terrorising honest people.
    The car park at my dentist's has a clamping notice. When I parked my car there the other day I did wonder how they would know I was visiting my dentist as the car park is shared by a number of businesses on a first-come, first-served basis? This worry didn't help with an already painful treatment.
    Another example: our local Round Table operates a Santa Float collecting money for charity. I had volunteered to do an evening's collecting, gathering at a pub and then covering a few streets. I'm sure the pub would have been fine with it as the team were going to return there for a few bevvies, but a private clamping company would not have seen it like that. The event was cancelled anyway but worrying about stuff like this when trying to raise some charity money is not exactly in the spirit of Christmas!

  5. It's high time these private companies were regulated. This story is show a particularly mean spirited high handedness.

  6. Quote "I think the pub is probably as annoyed as the drivers who were clamped"
    ExTm the pubs shut!!! and has been for weeks and wont reopen until the new year.

  7. Kosms,
    Thats illegal it seems the cliampers have more rights than the rest of us.
    I wont go into details but i had a clamping firm try and get us involved in an arrangement to clamp people in our car park.If memory serves me correctly the split in the fees was 50/50. Got a bit upset when told to go away!

  8. I visited the pub's website and it seemed to be live. That said, if it is closed then that makes it even worse.

  9. I hope they never ever try to bring in that clamp shyte here then.. because I don't think many Aussies would just roll over and allow people to clamp their cars. There would be violence. We have people who destroy speed and red light cameras already.

    So these clampers are private enterprise? Not the local authority?

    and heartily agree XTM ... if the place is closed to business then why the BLEEP does it matter who parks there ????

  10. Taken from the local paper
    It is believed five people were clamped in total and made to pay at least £150 each to be released The pub, The Roebuck Inn in Winchester, is not even open at the moment. It was shut several weeks ago for renovations and is not due to re-open until the new year under new ownership.

    Mind you they do have a habit of getting things wrong
    oh and this was in there
    HOSPITAL bosses at Southampton General have admitted “teething problems” with a new catering service following complaints about meals turning up late or not at all.

    The hospital is currently in the process of switching to a new system where pre-prepared meals are steam cooked in microwaves in ward kitchens.

    This replaces the old system where meals were cooked in on-site kitchens, which still continue to operate restaurants for staff, visitors and patients with specific dietary requirements.

    However, one relative of a patient staying several weeks on an orthopaedic ward said the new service was a mess.

    “It was not brilliant before, but at least patients were getting fed,” said the woman who declined to be named. “Some days my relative’s lunch has been arriving at 4.30pm and then supper as late as 8.30pm.

    On one occasion the meal did not arrive at all.”

    One catering worker said staff responsible for distributing meals had insufficient training and did not always follow patients’ dietary requests.

    A hospital spokesman said: “As with any major change of service, there have been teething problems and, unfortunately, in the early stages, some delays were experienced.

    However, these issues are being resolved through close co-operation with our ward staff and the catering contractor. The trust’s specialised diet kitchen continues to cater for patients with specific dietary requirements and the new service includes ward hostesses who are fully trained in all aspects of food hygiene standards.

    “The roll-out programme is progressing well with the Princess Anne Hospital now fully transferred and half of the Southampton General Hospital site using the new service. It is anticipated that the remaining areas will be completed on schedule during December.”

    All catering staff were offered the chance to transfer to Medirest when the company won the £17m five-year contract to supply patient meals in Southampton earlier this year.

    £17 million!!!


    but this is a good story buried deep of proper Christmas spirit.

  12. Hi XTM! Just curious: what does it mean, "clamping" a car? I guess the police and insurance companies should be glad about diligent drivers rather than not and maybe comfort them with hot tea and scones. I don't think a policeman in his right mind would give a hoot to a complainer in a weather situation like this. Why did the police pass over their powers to private companies anyway?
    I guess the average driver surely would have gladly paid for some refreshments and talk about the snowstorm in the pub before walking home, but as I read above it was not even open! The whole situation seems to have been thought up by P.G. Wodehouse. Just wait for the next turn of the hilarious plot - it can't be real, can it?
    Best wishes XTM, may common sense set in again soon in your country. Barbara (Styria)

  13. I'm having a giggle at wondering what a "ward hostess" is!!

  14. If indeed the pub was shut - i.e. these cars could in no way be disrupting business the next day - then this does totally stink.

    You have to ask what were the clampers plans. Did they - yes of course they did - sit down in the office and figure out that people were bound to be abandoning their cars wherever they could and that there, therefore, was money to be made from other people's misery?

    So reminds me of the last World Cup. Our local off-licence technically has no parking anywhere near the place. It's all either single yellow line up 'til 6.00 p.m. or a small, three-car space for permit holders.

    If anyone does park in the side road by the shop, they are technically committing an offence but in no way impeding traffic flow - it's a very wider road - or hindering local residents.

    So what happened an hour before kick-off for the first England match, when everyone was steaming out to get the last beers in? Snatch squads of local Ticket Wardens were lurking in the bushes to slap fines on patriotic fans, that's what!

    Does not make yer proud to be British.

  15. A few years ago i was fixing a broken lift in a multi story carpark. As i was working there i didn't buy a ticket, but as the van was sign written i thought it would obvious who i was. Walked to the shops to buy some oil, came back and found a parking ticket for 'not displaying a valid ticket'. I was livid. I turned both lifts off and walked to the council offices to talk to my client. I told him that the lifts were both turned off due to a serious problem. He asked what and i showed him the ticket. To be fair to him he did try and get the ticket cancelled but 'parking services' weren't interested. In the end i let my boss argue with his boss.

  16. chris from melbourne23 December 2009 at 20:01

    In Melbourne there are company's that operate clamping services on private car parking lots, but no 'official' use of them as far as I know. Do you have tow away zones over there? If the street is zoned to be a clearway at a certain time of day ( mostly weekdays ) a gaggle of tow trucks will be lurking nearby to remove your vehicle the minute the restriction comes into force. Sort of a public/private partnership, the removal sanctioned by the authority carried out by private contractor to whom you must pay a small fortune to retrieve your vehicle from storage.
    The best clamping story I've seen this morning, is a mobility scooter clamped for not displaying a permit at a shopping centre car-park. Photo in today's 24th Dec) Herald in NZ,
    ( follow the links to 'sideswipe' column. 'Spose it keeps some twerp occupied!
    Best wishes,
    Chris from Melbourne.

  17. santa may wish to be a bit careful about where he leaves the sleigh while delivering presents...

    It's going to be a hot xmas day here in Perth Aus, so looking forward to a swim, then prawns, lobster and moreton bay bugs on the barbie!!

    Hope you and your family have a lovely Xmas day XTM - and make sure the cat gets some turkey! Cheers

  18. This is the problem with the UK - commonsense has gone out of the window and rules and regulations has taken its its place.

    You can see it in every walk of life. From walking in the park, your work, and now even parking your car safely in severe weather conditions.

    The nanny state is one of the reasons I moved....Happy Christmas

  19. Wheel clamping during a blizzard when people are only trying to keep their cars from being destroyed by other cars slipping on the icy roads? Well, I would have done the exact same thing; but then would've kicked up a real stink when I found the clamp on my car.

    Years ago, I remember (this is when I drove a car here in Australia), I had to park my car in a bank's car park while I was a cleaner for a company next door (the other parking spots were taken by customers). I was there for 6 hours and my supervisor kept telling me every 45 minutes that my car was being towed; when it wasn't. I ended up going to the bank and asking if it was okay to use the parking spot and they told me to leave my car there as long it took for me to clean the premises. Whatever my supervisor said after that didn't phase me.

    But I totally agree with impoftheyard. Those companies should be regulated in such a way that if the weather has hampered efforts for people to safely park their cars on the street, that they should not clamp their cars just because their company's sign is up. Who do they think they are Robin Hood?

  20. gosh this blog has turn depressing and boring fast. Oh well.

    TM >>> XTM

  21. Sorry you don't like it. I wish I had some bad food for you to look at. If the blog's depressing then I take the blame... I find it difficult to stay cheerful right now. Sorry.

  22. Hi XTM

    Just wanted to wish you and your family a very happy Christmas Day and a much much better year for you in 2010 than the one you have just experienced, one you have dealt with with really admirable fortitude and humour and patience. Don't worry if some of your readers decide not to come back - that's their prerogative, just as it is your prerogative to write about what you want to. You have had a huge following as you have gone through this awful, miserable period of your life, and I would think that most of us readers have hoped to give you some encouragement, and at the same time have found what you have written to be interesting and at times really thought provoking. You can't be expected to write about food now you are not in the hospital and it is pretty unreasonable of people to be unpleasant when you do write about something different. You have made it quite clear, and indeed have it in your profile, that you are a journalist by trade and this comes across really well no matter what you choose to write about. I might add that I have relatives in the UK and through your various topics, I have discovered some stuff about what's happening there that I don't get in local papers, nor in my fairly cursory reading of the various Brit papers online - so thank you for that. Do keep going for as long as you feel you can, ignore the negative people and more than anything else, get better as soon as you can.

    All the very best

    Your Canberra Australia fan (Charm)

  23. So in an effort to get back to the original reason for the blog whats everyone having for christmas Diner this year?. Are you all prepared or are you doing "the Tesco Lottery" thats going to Tesco about an hour before closing and only buying stuff thats reduced!. I hope we have better luck than last year i mean i like cheese but....!
    Happy christmas to all with any luck ill finish work by 1700 and not back till boxing day ah but im on call so no drinking :-(

  24. Well, because it is damn hot here, I am baking and roasting tonight and having cold lunch tomorrow, so tonight it's gingerbread men in oven right now, then lime and chilli glazed ham in oven next, then roast the Turkey roll in oven while cooking potato for potato and bacon salad. Then collapse into bed !!!