Residents Complain Over 'Kafkaesque' Parking Tickets

Camera at junction of Turnham Green and CHR catching motorists

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The new camera at the junction between Chiswick High Road and Turnham Green Terrace is now being used to issue tickets for parking violations in the area.

Already a significant number of unsuspecting motorists have been issued PCNs by Hounslow Council using photographs taken by the camera whose installation was justified by the need to monitor the yellow junction box. The camera can issue tickets without the need for a parking attendant to place a ticket on the car.

A spokesperson for Hounslow Council said "We use cameras (including the camera in question) for the enforcement of traffic/parking offences in addition to a wider community safety role. This is a common practice in the London area. (We’re actually one of the last boroughs in the capital to use this particular type of enforcement).

"We only enforce against vehicles that commit contraventions, and we would encourage all motorists to drive and park legally at all times. If a motorist receives a Penalty Charge Notice from a camera, they have the right of appeal to both the borough and an independent adjudicator if they disagree with its issue."

Some local residents have been ticketed for parking in the loading bay outside the Old Cinema when they claim to have been loading furniture into their vehicles. The Old Cinema's Martin Hanness told "Over the last week or two I have been contacted by many enraged customers who appear to be getting undeserved parking tickets which are evidenced by use of a remote surveillance camera.

"Of course the loading bay should be useable for locals to drop off/collect heavy goods as well as commercial vehicles to deliver. Locals have been doing this for thirty years or more from my memory but that seems to have been ignored. This approach to parking control is unnecessarily heavy handed and fosters resentment towards generally well meaning local politicians."

"As far as I am aware none of the local shops have been consulted." he added.

The sign outside the Old Cinema says 'Goods Vehicles Loading Only - 7am to Midnight.' The assumption of people who have been caught by the camera is that if they are loading goods purchased from the Old Cinema or other nearby shops then they would be exempt from a parking ticket. However the Council in the implementation of fines appears to be automatically fining any private vehicle parked there even if they are clearly loading goods. This policy has been described by one person caught as 'Kafkaesque'.

The council spokesperson said "The bay is for use by "Goods Vehicles Only", i.e. vans, trucks and lorries; not cars. The definition of a “goods vehicle" is ‘a motor vehicle or trailer constructed or adapted for use for the carriage or haulage of goods or burden of any description’. This is opposed to that of a "Passenger Vehicle", which is defined as ‘a vehicle constructed or adapted for the carriage of passengers and their effects’. (There are more details on these definitions in the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, under which all Traffic Regulations are made.)

"The Loading Bay Traffic Order was "live" from 18 December 2006. The Order restricts the use of the bay to "goods vehicles only" - the operational hours are "at any time" with a goods vehicle permitted to waiting to load and unload for a period of 20 minutes, no return with 1 hour."

The extension of the loading bay until midnight will make it impossible for people to park in this area in the evening. As yet we have not had any reports of people being fined for parking here late at night after been caught by the camera.

Hounslow Council have a target of £3 million for the surplus on the parking account for the current financial year according to a statement made by Cllr. Gerald McGregor at a public meeting on parking in Chiswick last year. The target requires a substantial increase in the issuance of tickets over previous years. This, he says, enables them to keep down the level of Council Tax and is fairer on people on lower incomes.

August 23, 2007