North East Wales

Driver's £200 'ransom' over tyre puncture on A55

Amanda Neilson, who was charged £200 for vehicle recovery on the A55 after police told her she could not wait for the AA
Image caption Ms Neilson had her sister and two young children in the car with her

North Wales Police is investigating a complaint by a motorist who claims she was "held to ransom" for £200 over a punctured tyre on the A55.

Amanda Neilson called the AA following the incident at Rhuallt Hill, Denbighshire, and said she was told they would respond within an hour.

However, police cancelled the AA call, and Ms Neilson was charged by another firm to move the car from a verge.

Police said there were safety concerns, and it did not profit from recoveries.

Ms Neilson's partner, Nick Edwards, has now called for a change in the "ridiculous process" of removing broken down vehicles from the dual carriageway in situations where "it wasn't warranted".

Ms Neilson was driving home to Northop, Flintshire, from a hospital physiotherapy session on Monday when her car struck debris on Rhuallt Hill.

She steered the car onto a grass verge at the side of the road.

According to her partner the Honda Jazz model is not fitted with a spare wheel, so she called the AA as instructed to do so in the vehicle's manual.

Mr Edwards said: "They said they were on their way, but then a police traffic officer turned up and coned off one lane of the road.

"The officer then cancelled the AA and insisted on calling out their own recovery firm.

"But it took them 50 minutes to deal with the incident and I'm sure that the AA would have been there sooner."

He said the recovery driver told Ms Neilson she had to pay £178 plus VAT to move the vehicle and took her to a cash point to withdraw the money.

Mr Edwards said his partner had her sister, with two children aged five and six in the car when the incident happened.

He added: "It was very upsetting for them

"The children were standing crying in the rain.

"I understand the need to clear the A55 in a situation like this, but they weren't disrupting the traffic flow.

"The car was in a safe position off the road and there was no real danger.

"The AA had been called, but the police wouldn't accept that.

"The whole process seems to be ridiculous."

He said his partner could not claim the money back from the AA because of the police's intervention.

No profit

Supt Simon Shaw, of North Wales Police, said the incident was picked up by Traffic Wales cameras and police arrived within seven minutes.

After assessing the danger he said the "priority was to remove the vehicle as quickly as possible through our vehicle recovery arrangements".

He added: "We could not confirm the estimated time of arrival for the recovery firm the driver requested and our priority was to make the situation safe.

"North Wales Police does not profit in any way from our long established vehicle recovery policy."

Belgrano Services, the firm which dealt with the car's removal, has been asked to comment.

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