Restrictions on visitors' permits follows 250% price hike

Council responds to resident's parking complaints

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Guests prove costly in central Chiswick as visitors' permits rise by 250%

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Chiswick accounts for more than 40% of Hounslow's parking violations

A fine mess for local councils


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Chiswick resident, Joe Sueiras, was outraged when he was told by Hounslow Council that he had used up his quota of visitor's parking permits.

Mr Sueiras, who lives in Merton Avenue, said "I applied for seven visitors passes three weeks ago and sent off a cheque for £105.00 plus a copy my council tax demand and utility bill and a covering note.

"Two weeks later I got my cheque returned , a standard letter with a hand written note added on the end of it tell me that as I had four 4 visitor passes in September 2005 and five in April 2006, I could only have one now and purchase four more in September 2006 and no more until April 2007."

Earlier this year other residents were dismayed when Hounslow Council put up the cost of visitors' parking permits by a staggering 250%.  One resident stated "I discovered today that in a few days these permits increase in price to £15 but have 30 lines - so same charge per line. However, each line is no longer valid for 2 1/2 hours but 1 hour only."

However, when printing and issuing the permits the council also reduced visiting from 50 days a year to 30 days a year.  Mr Sueiras' response from the council highlighted 'a maximum of ten short term visitors permits per household, per twelve month period will be issued.'

Mr Suerias, who needs the visitors' permits for builders as he is due to have vital structural work carried out on his home, has been in contact with a number of departments at the council and has also taken legal advice.  "The council may of very well advised us in some way of the change of price but not the reduction of hours / days and I feel they have infringed our human rights in this very under handed action."

Spokesperson for Hounslow Council said "Short Term Visitor Permits have recently undergone changes to both the price and method of use.  The limit of ten permits per household was included as part of the CPZ controls to ensure that the Resident-Only bays within the zone were primarily available for residents. While we recognise that residents will have visitors, if this was uncontrolled or excessive, it would have a direct impact on the available spaces for residents’ own use. The local authority does receive complaints regarding the ten-permit limit, but we also receive complaints that the Resident-Only bays are full of skips, builders’ vans, and other non-resident vehicles.

"The old permit had a 20-line structure, with each line allowing up to a maximum of two and a half hours parking. However, the old permit could only be used in a single vehicle at any one time. The new permit provides 30 one-hour lines, and is designed to allow it to be split and used in two vehicles at the same time, if required.

"The old style permit allowed 20 visiting opportunities, with an allowance of 10 permits per year, providing a total parking opportunity on 200 occasions. Where a resident might receive a daily visitor, this arrangement essentially meant that the resident would be unable to provide parking through a permit for up to four months of the year (dependent of zone). The new permit provides an extra 100 parking opportunities, brining the total to 300, which allowed for a parking opportunity throughout the whole year.

"It is, however, fair to say that under the old system, if each and every one of the 200 parking opportunities were used in totality (i.e. for the full two and a half hours on every occasion), this did represent a longer total hourly period, albeit over fewer occasions. The Long Term Visitor Permit does, however, provide a facility where visitors may stay for extended periods.

"Services within the Parking section are reviewed annually, in advance of each financial year, by officers and elected members. Agreed charges for the forthcoming year are published in an annual document called Fees and Charges. This document contains details of a broad range of services from drain cleansing to skip licensing, including all parking charges, such as Permit prices (all types), Pay and Display rates (both on & off- street), Suspension and Waiver charges.

"It should be noted that the absence or otherwise of a Short Term Visitor Permit does not preclude a resident receiving visitors. The permit simply allows visitors to use the Resident Only bays (at a discounted rate) where they would not normally be entitled to do so. All zones contain pay and display parking that is available to the general public albeit not in every street. The use of this category of parking may occasionally involve a short walk.

"If at any point in time, residents feel that the controls in operation in their local area no longer reflect their current needs, representation can be made to either officers or councillors."

August 8, 2006