It’s All In the Timing….

Motorists caught out by discrepancies in council’s clocks

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Complaints about Hounslow's PCN issuing continue however, this time it’s the council’s time keeping that has been called into question.

One local resident told “I have a ticket that was issued at 7.00pm on a Saturday evening outside Sainsbury’s local. The restriction is until 7.00pm.”

When he appealed the ticket, Alexander Kouyas from Hounslow Council’s parking services told him, “If you park at 7.00pm you are still liable for a ticket as the restriction is until 7pm. Free parking starts at 19:01.”

Clear enough but when the resident pointed out that the actual camera time on the image sent with the PCN was 18:59:10 and the ticket time was 19:00, he was told “Hounslow council are not obliged to make any allowances for the fact that the publics' watches may not run to perfection”

Irritated by the response, he asked Mr Kouyas to tell him the time which was on Mr Kouyas’ watch and the time on Mr Kouyas’ computer. Both were different as were the times on the council’s office clock and on Mr Kouyas’ mobile phone.

According to the Code of Practice governing CCTV parking enforcement, the regulations state: "The equipment must be synchronised to the 'Rugby' atomic clock, or signal from recognised similar independent output. The last Rugby Clock update (time signal by radio wave every minute) should be checked on the stop-start frame at the beginning of each period of operation. The stop-start frame is displayed at the beginning and end of each recording. If a Rugby Clock update has not occurred for at least 72 hours, it should be done as soon as possible. This may mean leaving the system on until an update has been received, as in some areas, updates occur mainly at night due to problems with other equipment in the area interfering with the Rugby Clock signal."

The appeal against the PCN was not successful.

On another matter of timing, a driver was caught short because she checked her ticket time using her watch and not the time on the pay and display machine. Arriving back at her car three minutes too late, she had been issued a ticket.

An easy but infuriating mistake to make however, one that emphasises the need for drivers to check timings on individual pay and display machines, especially those around the Town Hall, carefully as clocks on neighbouring machines can vary anything between two to five minutes.

January 5, 2008