A BAILIFF chasing an unpaid £8 London congestion charge clamped a Cradley man's Mercedes on his own driveway.

The car won't be released unless owner Richard Williams pays a £490 bill, said the firm concerned.

Mr Williams, of Tan House Lane, incurred the charge in October by inadvertently straying into the congestion charge zone.

He left the country for an extended visit to Sri Lanka, where he has relatives, before the bill arrived. When he came back in mid-January, a demand from debt-collecting agency Equita for £490 was lying on his doormat.

In between further trips abroad, Mr Williams, a manufacturer's agent, sent letters to Equita asking for an explanation of the demand, and his persistence seemed to pay off when Equita wrote back, reducing the charge to £220, But on Thursday, a bailiff from the company showed up at Mr Williams' home, demanding he pay the £490. While Mr Williams was trying to phone Equita, the bailiff clamped his Mercedes S500.

"What really annoys me is that my wife has a heart condition," said Mr Williams. "What if there's an emergency?"

Mr Williams said he suspected such cases will become more common if road pricing is introduced.

An Equita spokesman said he could not comment on individual cases. "If the gentleman has any queries about how this case has been handled, he is more than welcome to contact us," he said.