Clamping controversy at Bedford Corner
Locals fall foul of extreme new parking restrictions
A large number of residents, business owners and their customers have become unwitting victims of extreme new parking restrictions at Bedford Corner – so extreme in fact that car owners have been clamped for parking on their own premises!
The saga began over two years ago when a planning application was submitted to Ealing Council by the main freeholder to refurbish the forecourt in front of the parade of shops. With commuter parking becoming an increasing issue and the land falling into disrepair, no one took issue with the concept of restoration however; other freeholders considered that it was not their duty to make a financial contribution to what is essentially private land.
On 16th September 2005, more than 18 months after the submission of the original planning application, several business owners received notification in the form of a letter from the land owner, who incidentally lives in Regents Park NW1, stating that “to clear the forecourt for the improvement works and stop any unauthorised parking on the land; a clamping company has been engaged to clamp and remove vehicles parked without a permit.”
The letter, intended to give shop owners the opportunity to ‘warn’ their customers about the new 24 hour, seven days a week parking restrictions also stated that “There will be inconvenience to some customers until they get used to the new system but the appearance of the forecourt will be greatly improved and add to the attractiveness of the whole area.”
On Wednesday 28th September, signs were erected at numerous but rather obscure points around Bedford Corner. Early the following morning the clamping company arrived and clamped everyone in sight, including those legitimately parked.
Faced with a minimum of £125 release fee, emotions are running high. Every person who chiswickw4.com spoke to complained about foul language and ‘bullying’ tactics used by Parking Control Services, the company employed to clamp illegally parked vehicles.
Parking Control Services state that “We at Parking Control Services will relieve [parking] pressures simply, professionally and cost effectively, allowing you to concentrate on what you do best - your business. Wheel clamping is a sensitive issue and our aim is to always ensure that the motorist is clearly informed of the parking restrictions by using large clear prominently located warning signs displaying the restrictions. We strive to ensure the offenders are treated professionally and fairly (we have an Appeals & Compliant Procedure), to achieve this all our staff have completed a BTEC Level 2 Award in Vehicle Immobilisation & Conflict Management and are currently licensed with the SIA as required by law."
And it’s not just feelings that have been hurt; the independent businesses on which Chiswick places so much value have suffered tremendously. Bruce Reekie, owner of Hardies, said “We have really noticed the drop in trade, especially on Saturdays. It’s not the idea of refurbishing the forecourt that I object to, but the high handed manner in which we have been treated.”
When speaking to the other shop owners along the parade, the same story is echoed. The Young's Veterinary Practice is very concerned about their clients who need their cars to bring their sick pets to be treated. They have a huge sign on their door stating "Clamping in operation, please park on the street" easier said than done considering there are only three pay and display places within easy walking distance.
Hairdresser, Nic Ladha, said "We have all been kept totally in the dark. We haven't been told anything about what work [on the forecourt] is going to be done and when. Meanwhile our customers and our businesses are suffering. The parade of shops is becoming like a ghost town with people being too scared to park, even those who are legitimately using our businesses."
Many of those, both shopkeepers and their customers, who have been clamped, are appealing their fines. If anyone has been clamped in Bedford Corner and would like to join the newly formed association in their appeal against the new restrictions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass on your details.
November 11, 2005