|Bay Watching on Churchfield Road|
Businesses say lack of spaces means they are losing customers
Local businesses in Churchfield Road have started 2009 seething about problems experienced by their customers on parking issues.
The few stop and shop spaces outside Paint and opposite Pearls Drycleaners, what used to be the Post Office, De Sio Furniture shop and Central Heat Plumbing are in constant use by the minicab office. Things have been made worse by a London Borough of Ealing Enforcement vehicle which seems to be almost permanently parked there recently making it even more difficult for customers to shop locally.
Sonny Masson , who runs Paint, told us that much of his business comes from builders and decorators who work locally and need to be able to park nearby as they are buying large quantities of heavy items. There is a loading bay very close to his shop, but he says the rules and regulations on that are unclear.
"We asked Council officers to clarify the loading bay rules during a meeting last year, but we've heard absolutely nothing on this. Many people have received tickets whilst loading or unloading in that bay and Ealing Council is forced to cancel those tickets, but this means a lot of time wasted sending letters and proof etc etc.
"I spoke to someone at the Council about the Enforcement van the other day to complain that he was using up a much-needed parking bay. His attitude seemed to be that he's entitled to park there if he likes. But I can't see that what he is doing is in the best interests of the local businesses.
"The thing is, lots of my customers have had tickets. We think they must be coming from this enforcement vehicle. This week alone, six of my customers received tickets. Nothing was put on their windscreen, and as far as they were concerned there were no wardens around who might have been able to give out tickets.
Posters on the W3 Forum have frequently complained about the minicabs who use the stop and shop parking spaces. It has been reported both by Forum users and by a number of shopkeepers that they regularly observe parking wardens alert minicab drivers that their stop-and-shop hour is up so they can move to another space. Drivers are subsequently seen driving around the block, parking in another bay or around the corner in Cowper Road.
A number of businesses we spoke to told us that if they needed to buy a vehicle at any stage they would have to purchase £250 business permits in order to park locally and legally. However, when they see stop and shop spaces being taken up by Ealing Council Enforcement vans or by minicab drivers they can't help feeling that the system as it is is grossly unfair.
Another business owner on Churchfield Road told us: "I'm always being told by customers that they wanted to stop and pick something up or drop something off, but because there were no parking bays free, they had to go elsewhere. I've heard this from other businesses in Churchfield Road, too."
Everyone we spoke to said the credit crunch was hitting them hard, but that they felt Ealing Council was working against them, despite having listened carefully to points put to them at a meeting on Parking issues organised by Action Acton last year.
Cllr Vlod Barchuk told us he thinks the Council should look at ways of trying to make these spaces more usable for shoppers rather than mini cabs. "Reducing stop and shop times to 30 minutes may be one way to do this.
Cllr Barchuk continued: "I will be happy to discuss this and any other ideas at the ward forum next week."
Sonny Masson again: "It's not easy running a business on a 'B' road during a severe financial crisis. We all pay a lot of money to Ealing Council in business rates. It would be nice to feel they were working with us on this important issue. It's easier for people to park outside McDonald's on Acton High Street than it is to park on Churchfield Road in a stop-and-shop bay."
It is not just parking issues where businesses feel the Council is working against them. We reported late last year about a raise in the price of Council business waste collection hitting only those businesses who cooperate and buy the regulation sacks, not those who break the law by fly-tipping.
Another local shopkeeper told us: "Yesterday for two hours there were eight minicabs parked outside our shops, then another space was taken up by the Council CCTV van. Where are our customers supposed to park? If it's this easy to abuse the system, I think we need to forget about stop and shop and make it residents' permits or pay and display only."
"People are driving off without using their local shops. It's a nightmare scenario. I've complained several times to Ealing Council - they say they'll look into it and nothing happens."
A Council spokesperson told us: "Our CCTV vans and parking attendants play a vital role in enforcing parking and traffic regulations. They help prevent congestion and discourage dangerous and inconsiderate parking, particularly in busy areas such as Churchfield Road.
Now it has been brought to our attention that one of the businesses has been hogging stop and shop bays we will investigate whether anything can be done.”
"The loading bay is operational Monday – Friday 7am till 7pm without any time limit.
"Parking attendants will make every effort to issue the penalty charge by attaching it to the windscreen of the vehicle. If the vehicle is driven away before the issuing process is complete, the notice will be sent via the post. This is also the case, when the warden is prevented from issuing the ticket."
January 14, 2009