Probably not quite as bad as having your vehicle towed away completely, but just as inconvenient!
For a fine payment of £65 you can have your car released - but personally, I'd rather pay the parking fee in the first place and prevent the embarrassment never mind the cost!!
I have already explained about clamping as a deterrent against parking in the wrong place. It is a pretty strong one. The next step is to tow your car away! If you don't claim your car quickly once it has been clamped, the tow truck will pay your car a visit, and of course the fines go up accordingly to get your car back.
This causes more problems as often your car just 'disappears' and you have to work out what might have happened to it (including worrying about whether it has been stolen or you have just forgotten where it is).
Britain is not a good place for the motorist, there are a lot of traffic enforcement cameras (both speed, red light and bus lane) and harsh penalties for parking. Petrol is also more expensive than almost any other place in the world.
Parking is a problem in London for a few reasons. Firstly it is hard to find, secondly it is expensive, and thirdly there are some nasty punishments for parking in the wrong place, or for parking somewhere too long.
As fines are frequently unpaid, ways of enforcing payment have been devised. Clamping a car is a popular method. This obviously disabled your car and you are unable to drive it until the clamp has been removed - and a fine is payable first! Frequently clamping will be performed by the County Council, although in some private places, contractors are brought in to do the job. You do hear accusations of gung-ho contractors who almost trick people into getting clamped.
Be very careful where you park however as even if you have foreign plates on your car [my picture here shows a Spanish car with a WCC (Westminster County Council) Clamp on], you will still be clamped and still expected to pay.
It is becoming more and more difficult to park in London as there are many restrictions. Be careful where you park as many places are reserved for residents. Make sure that you purchase a ticket from the machine and display it properly. Should you use a parking meter you must leave the parking space before the time runs out, and you are not allowed to extend your stay by inserting more money in to the meter. Very large fines are dished out to those who transgress and you car may even be clamped ( a yellow contraption placed around one wheel so you cannot drive off) or towed away. In fact last year illegal cars parked in one street, Southampton Row were fined a total of £1.2 million. You don't have to be caught by a traffic warden but you may be caught by a CCTV camera and if your car is rented you will sign that you are responsible for this and the penalty will be charged to your credit card some time later.
Cost of clamp removal---£70
Cost of releasing car after being towed away--£200 + £40 each day stored
Cost of parking penalty ---£130 for serious offence
£80 for less serious
Failure to pay --the fine will increase 50% then possibly court action
Parking in any large city is likely to be a nightmare but other than not be able to read the road signs in places like Korea and Japan, I do not think that I have ever encountered parking laws which are as convoluted as they are in London where they are enacted by 32 local councils whose rules aren’t always in sync. Parking hours, holidays, and enforcement of the most minor of infractions can vary considerably from one district to another, even on different sides of the same street. I was not in London this past winter but am told that on Boxing Day, drivers on one side of a road were free to park while those on the other side, in another district, received heavy fines for doing the same thing.
Penalty: Be prepared to pay a fine of $130–$195.
Be VERY careful where you park in London. There are some places that cost several pounds an hour just to park on the street. Always look for the time plates fixed to lamp posts, they will tell you where and when you can park, make sure you are in the right place or your vehicle will be towed away at great expense to yourself.
Westminster council are now charging for motorcycle parking too, cheeky monkeys! They encourage you to leave your car at home, use a form of transport that doesn't cause congestion then they charge you for that too. You can object to this outrage by visiting this site: http://www.notobikeparkingfees.com/
If you aren't travelling to The o2 by public transport and are taking your own car there, do NOT park in one of the o2 car parks. They charge £25!!!!!!!! If you do take a wrong turn and find yourself in one of the o2 car parks you have 2 minutes to get your car out of there before you get shafted. I think its absolutely disgusting they charge so much so BOYCOTT IT!
Close to the o2 is an NCP car park (if you're looking you will see the NCP logo). We parked in there where they charge £6 normally (still pretty expensive but cheap by London standards) or £3 on weekends and bank holidays. I 3 you NCP!
If you drive in London, please make sure you obey their parking regulations. If your meter expires, the authority will usually put a boot on your wheel so that you cannot move your vehicle until you contact the authority to have the boot removed. The fines and charges you have to pay could set you back more than 100 GBP.
If you park in a tow away zone or residents only zone within the city center, they might not tow your car bacuse of the tight narrow streets in the area. However, they can make your car disappeared by doing what they do to the car in the photo. Believe me, they only took five minute to make this car disappeared.