Has Time Run Out For Hounslow's Tow Trucks?

Council's Executive considers proposals to scrap vehicle removals


The full report can be read here (large pdf file)

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Tow Trucks could become a thing of the past if Hounslow Council’s Executive goes ahead with plans to put a stop to vehicle removals.

A report by Councillor Paul Fisher, which will be presented to the Executive on 6th April, asks members to consider either reduce vehicle removal enforcement or to cease vehicle removal enforcement altogether.

The report comes after members received a number of complaints from residents over the towing of vehicles. The report states that complainants considered this form of enforcement over-zealous and punitive given that Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) are also issued as part of the vehicle removal protocol.

Hounslow removes 1,169 vehicles per annum putting them in the lowest quartile of authorities employing a removal policy. By comparison Lambeth with 7,238 removals per annum, and Kensington & Chelsea with 6,625 are at one end of the spectrum whilst Islington is at the other with 316 removals per annum). Westminster City Council still removes 1,573 vehicles despite publicising that they no longer have a vehicle removals policy.

The current vehicle removal policy allows Hounslow’s contractor to intervene where vehicle owners / users have unreasonably parked creating a hazard. The report notes that in some instances, say where parking is permitted, there is little benefit for removal as parking overstay in a permitted bay presents no safety concern. In such cases issuing a PCN for a parking infringement may be considered sufficient.

The towing service currently costs the Council approximately £300,000 in a full year. The estimated income arising from the release charges is £240,000 and related PCNs £50,000. If Option 1 – reduction in removals - was adopted then the net saving would be £2,500 in 2010/11 and £5,000 in a full year, assuming that related PCN income is also reduced by half. If Option 2 – cease vehicle removal completely – was adopted then there would be a net saving to the Council in 2010/11 of £5,000 and £10,000 in a full year, assuming a full loss of the related PCN income.

The full report can be read here (large pdf file).

March 30, 2010