|Have Your Say on Bedford Park and Acton Green Parking|
Calls for an end to 'arbitrary regime of enforcement that borders on banditry'
Chiswick residents in Ealing Borough have a chance to have their say on parking in a consultation being undertaken by the Council.
Follow a significant number of issues being raised by residents about Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) in the area and a petition from Southfield ward Councillor Gary Malcolm, Ealing Council agreed to have a review of the zones in Bedford Park (B) Southfield (R) and Acton Green (M).
Gary Malcolm said: "After a number of reported problems with the current scheme we have managed to persuade the Council to consult residents so that any changes can be made, whether they be to the days or times of operation. Please let the Council know what you think about the CPZs in the ward."
Residents are able to give comments on the scheme up until April 27th. There are links to the individual questionnaires on the right. There is an opportunity to say whether or not you approve of the CPZ and some other options are offered in relation to operating hours and 'stop-and-shop' bays for the area.
The consultation will not cover the issue of charges which were recently quietly increased by Ealing Council as they are a budget matter. There is an option for shorter operating hours for each CPZ on the consultation but it is not made clear whether or not this would also mean a reduced annual permit charge.
Judging by e-mails sent to ChiswickW4.com and comments on the forum many local residents are likely to use the questionnaire as a way to express their anger over the way CPZs in the area have been operated since their introduction.
Ealing Council's parking department have required a reputation for being unforgiving on parking violations. They routinely reject appeals in which the resident has clearly made a genuine mistake rather than sought to avoid paying a PCN charge. This contrasts with a more flexible approach adopted by neighbouring Councils.
One local resident contacted us to say, “When the CPZ was originally introduced most people were supportive but the experience has not been a good one. There is no doubt that parking controls were needed and now that neighbouring areas have introduced them there is no going back but Ealing Council have taken the opportunity to introduce an arbitrary regime of enforcement that borders on banditry. The schemes were meant to be for the benefit of local people but they have become a source of revenue and parking attendants lack no imagination in ways to catch residents out.”
Since the introduction of the CPZ residents have received tickets for parking in suspended bays which were suspended with little or no notice, accidentally entering a date in the future on a visitor’s parking voucher and other technical infringements which they claim could not have involved an attempt to avoid paying any necessary charges. For several years after the implementation of Zone B Bedford Park residents reported that on the anniversary of the set up for the scheme the area was flooded with parking attendants looking for residents’ cars with expired permits. It was claimed by many that Ealing Council made the renewal process deliberately slow to make it difficult for residents to renew on time.
There have been allegations that the company which employs the parking attendants, NSL, have been using quotas for their staff which would be in breach of Government guidelines. Parveen Bhardwaj claims he was fired from his job as a parking attendant working in Ealing Borough last November after raising concerns about ticket quotas.
Mr Bhardwaj, 36, who worked for NSL in the borough for 5 years has been quoted as saying, "Just two months after taking over, NSL started bringing in the quota. We have to issue 1.5 tickets an hour, that's 10 to 15 a day. We can't issue more tickets than there are to give out. We can't make them up. If you don't bring in that number they start bullying you and then terminate your employment. More than 10 staff have had their employment terminated and 30 have been disciplined in the past two months."
Parking attendants in the borough went on strike over his dismissal. NSL have denied his claims and say that Mr. Bhardwaj was sacked for falsifying paperwork and ‘idling at work’. They say that other dismissals in the borough have been for absenteeism. A parking attendant in Kensington and Chelsea won his claim for unfair dismissal against NSL after telling a tribunal that he had a quota of 10 tickets per shift. He was awarded £20,000. It has since emerged that the contract between Kensington and Chelsea and NSL stipulated a minimum number of PCNs per annum.
An Acton Green resident who received a ticket for filling out a visitors permit that the attendant said was illegible said, “I have a great deal of sympathy with the attendants who I believe are on close to minimum wage and under some sort of pressure to issue as many tickets as possible. What I fail to understand is that when they issue a ticket which is clearly spurious Ealing Council still reject the resulting appeal. They seem to have standing operating instructions to throw out every appeal at the first stage in the hope that the resident will not bother going to PATAS.”
Some residents are calling for new guidelines to be put in place for the issuing of PCN and appeals in Ealing Borough. They believe that the system has been perverted from its original purpose and more protection needs to be provided for local residents which differentiates genuine mistakes by residents who have paid for a permit from attempts to use residents’ zones without paying.
One specific proposal in the review is the transfer of Montgomery Road from Zone B to Zone M. Because of regular road works and changes to parking restrictions on nearby roads there have been complaints from local residents about a lack of space to park. Another is to make the bays on Southfield Road which back on to Whellock Road accessible to both Zone B and Zone R permit holders.
A resident of Southfield ward commented, "I am less than impressed that the residents of Whellock Road want to share the limited capacity of zone R.
Zone B appears to be at least 4 times larger than R.
Many roads in zone B are underused as many of these properties have off street parking.
Additionally both B and M have close access to tube stations. R does not.
April 20, 2012