Clayton Reid, 67, of Halesowen, has said that the ban on cowboy wheel clampers could be the final straw for his attempts to earn an honest living.
Arriving in Britain from Fort Worth, Texas in 1963 after being run out of town following a brief career as a cowpoke (‘I mis-poked one time too many, I guess,’ he says), Reid looked for the nearest equivalent to the Wild West and settled in the West Midlands.
Anxious to earn money to fund the heavy drinking and gambling habits associated with a cowboy lifestyle, Reid set up a building firm and he and his ‘posse’ were soon doing a roaring trade patching up old houses to accommodate an influx of Commonwealth immigrants. ‘Course they was structurally unsound, but nobody complained in them days,’ he drawled wistfully.
Attracted by thoughts of reliving his rodeo days, Reid worked full time on construction of Birmingham’s Bull Ring for a year before realising it was going to be a shopping centre. Seeing the money to be made in pre stressed concrete, he set up the High Alumina Chaparral Cement Company which collapsed a few years later.
Reid then tried his hand as plumber, electrician, gas fitter, landscape gardener and other jobs, sometimes combining them all whether he needed to or not. ‘I didn’t always do the purtiest job, but I single-handedly did more to advance the cause of formal qualifications and health and safety legislation than anyone else,’ he said, ‘and I’m mighty proud of that.’
Reid then moved into financial services in with the Loan Ranger Mortgage Corp, which brought about further legislation including the formation of the Financial Services Authority. Unfortunately he was allowed to contribute to its operations manual, ensuring no one knew what was going on and thus paving the way for the credit crisis.
‘Wheel clamping was the only thing left I could do,’ he said, head in hands. ‘I may have gone a little over the top with my charges but I had my overheads to cover. I never paid no National Insurance and I can’t survive on the state pension. There must be some unregulated activity left I can do. What’s that? Management motivation courses? Well dang me, I think I found me a gold mine.’