Seven Kings woman could lose car after being clamped while watching the Olympic Torch relay

A Seven Kings woman could lose her car after being clamped while she was watching the Olympic Torch relay.

Fran Olabanji, 52, said she missed the flame pass near her home so caught up with it in Chadwell Heath on July 22.

She parked in the car park of Booker Cash and Carry in Selinas Lane and arrived back to find her car clamped.

She was told the release charge was �465 and, unable to pay, walked home.

Mrs Olabanji said the incident “put a downer” on the historic day.

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She added: “I couldn’t have been there for more than half an hour and I think it was probably closer to 20 minutes.

“I had to chase the torch and just saw the back of a torchbearer before it went around the corner back onto the High Road.

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“My husband and I were slightly sceptical coming up to the Games but when I saw the torch it transformed my feelings.”

Mrs Olabanji works in central London and said it was her only chance to see the torch relay.

She called the release charge “disproportionate and unmerciful” and claimed she did not see the warning sign, which was allegedly high up with small writing, when she parked.

Ilford South MP Mike Gapes has written to clampers City Watch on Mrs Olabanji’s behalf.

He said: “I think these clamping firms behave disgracefully and that’s why the law is being changed, but unfortunately until the new law comes into effect these cowboys can carry on as they are.”

New legislation will come into force in October banning clamping and towing without “lawful authority”.

Mrs Olabanji does not know what has become of her P registration Vauxhall Corsa. City Watch have the power to “dispose of” vehicles if owners do not pay fees.

She said: “Quite frankly, my car is a bit of an old banger but it’s vital for everyday life, even doing the grocery shop.”

She has offered City Watch �130 at the advice of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. According to the AA, it is the upper “reasonable” amount that clampers should charge.

City Watch has been featured on BBC consumer programme ‘Watchdog’ and was removed from the British Parking Association’s approved operator scheme in 2010.

The company had not responded to the Recorder’s request for comment at the time of going to print.

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