Chiswick Woman Gets £700 Parking Fine

Her car is towed away from outside her home while she is on holidays

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A Chiswick woman returned from holidays to find her car had been towed away and she faced a bill of almost £700 to get it back.

Caroline Langton of Airedale Avenue was unaware that her car had been towed away from the residents’ bay where she had parked it close to her home.

At the time, builders who were working on a house renovation in the street, which is a Controlled Parking Zone, (CPZ), had been granted a parking extension by Hounslow Council.

But Mrs. Langton was unaware of this when she parked her car in the empty bay on a Saturday afternoon. Two other residents also received parking tickets, but her car was towed away later that day.

When she returned from her holidays she could not locate the car, and wondered if it had been stolen. However, her husband managed to track down its whereabouts in the White City pound.

“I didn’t use the car for a few days after I came back as we’d all been urged to take public transport during the Olympics, so it took a while for me to realise it was missing. So it had actually been in the pound for ten days before I discovered it- there was absolutely no contact made by the Council or anyone else on the matter.

"Our car was towed on a Saturday afternoon (14th July) after the builders had left the street. The bays were vacant at the time because Hounslow bye-laws state that building work must cease after 1.00pm. We were not notified in any way by the Council and  since being away on holiday were unaware that our car was clocking up nearly £700 worth of fines. This comprised the cost of recovering the vehicle at £200, plus daily storage costs of £40, along with the original PCN.

"I believe that the Council has an absolute duty to notify resident permit holders if their car has been lifted.  I also feel strongly that we should receive full notice of extensions of parking suspensions ", she commented.

The charges were withdrawn by Hounslow Council’s Parking department. It is understood this was due to a technicality surrounding the PCN issued by the warden. Mrs. Langton was relieved to discover she did not have to pay the fine when she went to the White City pound to retrieve her car and the attendant telephoned the Council on her behalf.

After further investigation, Mrs. Langton said that she believed the parking attendant had contravened Hounslow Council parking policy on two counts, the first was that she was not committing a “high level” parking offence, and the second that the ticket was issued at 16.19 and she was towed at 17.12 - less than the statutory hour allowed in the Council’s Parking policy.

She said she also discovered that the Parking Attendant had in-putted the wrong registration number at the time of issue so that the whole fine was legally unenforceable.

The towing incident has angered local councillor John Todd, who intends to take the matter further.

"I was horrified to learn of Caroline Langton’s tow-away experience and the proposed extortionate cumulative charges imposed by LBH and its  commercial contractor.

"There was no need to tow away her car whatsoever. The builder had finished and it  was late  on a Saturday afternoon. Why didn't LBH tell Caroline it had her car after she failed to notice its disappearance?

"Other boroughs such as Wandsworth show more consideration to CPZ Permit Holders. They do not tow away but move the vehicle if required to an adjacent bay.  However LBH have a very narrow parking policy. Only 8 cars re-parked compared to 1000 removed , as I recall from the latest statistics.

"LBH appear to regards those who hold CPZ permit as fair game and they can suspend legal parking bays without any advance publicity or on -line  suspension data. No one can  dare  to go on holiday and leave their car unattended for a week or so without being at potential risk. This is utter nonsense. 

Our current Parking Services Scrutiny review will make numerous recommendations endeavouring to remove the perceived threat of punitive action by LBH Parking Services and their CEO's who are given little discretion.  The recent RingGo fiasco shows that Councillors need to be most vigilant in their oversight of this Department, " he said. has asked Hounslow Council for a comment on the matter.

August 3, 2012