Businesses Fume Against "Unfair" Parking Regulations

While residents find fault with Parking Services

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Parking issues are causing quite a bit of controversy in Acton at the moment, what with Zone K being split into two (K and K1), a heated meeting with local businesses on parking issues and a couple of towings away.

At a recent meeting - by all accounts a very lively one - last month held by Acton Business Forum (ABF), which is run under the umbrella of the regeneration charity Action Acton, about parking issues, Mike Morris, Secretary of ABF wrote to Phil Burns, Head of Parking at Ealing Council. The letter summarised points raised at the meeting at which Phil Burns was often subjected to angry shouts from the audience.

Loading bays are not properly marked. The three minute rule is oppressive and impractical. They are also only available on Monday to Friday, when Saturday is the busiest trading day for many businesses. Problems are particularly acute in the Vale business district and likely to worsen on completion of nearby substantial residential developments

There is almost no signage in Acton to council car parks which leaves local businesses at a disadvantage compared to other town centres (eg Ealing).

Acton businesses welcome the news that the Council plans to publish clear ‘rules of engagement’ setting out exactly what is allowed and what is not. However there is a widespread belief that the wardens operating in Acton are not sufficiently well trained and often do not themselves know what the rules are. They seem to operate a policy of ‘if in doubt, give it a ticket’. There is a general feeling that over-zealous enforcement is squeezing the commercial life out of the town. A view was also expressed that some wardens are less than impartial and have over-friendly relations with certain businesses.

Business customers struggle to find somewhere to park while residential spaces lie unused in the residential streets immediately adjacent to the High Street and Churchfield Road. These residential bays could be converted to dual use. ‘Stop and shop’ bays should be available on Saturdays to help customers use the shops on the most important business day of the week.

Businesses feel that the balance is currently weighted against them. Small adjustments along the lines suggested here would go a long way to making life a bit easier for Acton businesses.

Meanwhile, Alex Watson, a resident of Goldsmith Road - currently a cul de sac because of Thames Water works - was furious when the car of a friend of hers was towed away only a short time after being parked outside her home. She wrote to Phil Burns to express her "intense frustration and disbelief" about it.

Her friend's car was ticketed only three minutes after leaving it in the road, and had been removed within 2 hours after that. Alex told me: "While I accept that our collective mistake is deserving of a fine, I strongly take issue with the policy of removing the vehicle in such a short space of time. My friend (8 months pregnant) absent-mindedly forgot to check the restrictions and I didn’t supply her with a visitors permit (as I usually do).

"The vehicle was not parked dangerously, by a school or on a yellow line. It was parked safely on a residents bay. Is it now Ealing Councils policy to do this? Are you aware that Apcoa are behaving in this way whilst working on your behalf? If so, it seems excessive, overly punitive, totally disproportionate and an effective policy in alienating both visitors and local council tax customers.

"We were told at the pound that vehicles with PCNs in residents bays could be taken within 15 minutes of the initial offence, and this was more likely to occur, “…on slow days”. If this is true, it seems random and not at all consistent.

Alex pointed out that there is no mention of this policy on the Ealing Council website and asked the Council to check their parking policy, in particular how Apcoas manage parking policy.

Neither Mike Morris nor Alex Watson has received a reply from Ealing Council.

To add to the Council's parking woes, residents are complaining about inadequate communication from Parking services. One resident told us: "I have asked the Council about a couple of issues recently - one double yellow line which was supposed to be much shorter than it is and for clarification about when the new Zone K1 comes into force, but no one returns my calls. It's a bit much."


March 28, 2008