Council Bows to Pressure on Tow Trucks

Grace period of one hour to be introduced before vehicle removal

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Hounslow Council has reviewed its vehicle removals policy and implemented a new “grace period” before vehicles are towed away from residential streets. A new one hour observation will apply to vehicles parked on quieter residential streets not causing an obstruction. Parking tickets will however still be issued.

The move follows hard on the heels of the new administration’s commitment to review parking policy across the borough by the end of the year and a wave of criticism for local residents about tow trucks targetting vehicles on back streets that were not causing an obstruction. There appeared to be systematic targetting of sites where the signs are confusing with no attempt whatsoever to address the seriousness of the parking violation.

Residents had reported seeing Parking Attendants and tow trucks working in tandem to maximise the number of vehicles they can catch. Hounslow appointed NCP to tow vehicles in October 2005 and have to date removed 1,823 vehicles, 756 of which were in Chiswick. It is alleged that Chiswick is the most popular spot for tow trucks because of its proximity to NCP's pound at Wood Lane.

Vehicles parked on zigzags, loading restrictions, and bus stops will continue to be removed immediately, and vehicles parked on certain main routes and narrow or one-way roads, and on single and double-yellow lines on corners, will receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) after a five-minute observation and face immediate removal.

However, from Wednesday, 1 November, parking attendants will issue PCNs at other locations such as quieter residential streets, but will not request an immediate removal. Instead, the vehicle will be subject to a one-hour “grace period” before recovery services are called.

Cllr Peter Thompson, Leader of Hounslow Council, said: “Residents have been very vocal about the existing removals policy, and we have listened to their concerns and begun to address them as quickly as possible. We have to ensure that illegally parked vehicles don’t cause an obstruction to other road-users or impede traffic flow, but it’s clear that there are instances where a reasonable 'grace period' can be justified."

The new “grace periods” will be reviewed in three months.

Five minute observation periods will still apply to parking on corners, One-way roads where one side of the road is predominantly Single Yellow Line, persistent offenders/evaders, vehicles not registered with DVLA and for the third PCN issued to a vehicle.

The following main routes (defined as roads that are either controlled by traffic lights or are bus routes) will also have a five-minute observation period before removal:

Chiswick High Road
Chiswick Lane
Turnham Green Terrace
Fishers Lane
Dolman Road
Belmont Road - Chiswick High Road - Dolman Road
Heathfield Terrace
Sutton Court Road. Heathfield Terrace - A4
Sutton Lane North - Chiswick High Road - Heathfield Terrace
Acton Lane
Wellesley Road - Sutton Lane North - Oxford Road North
Bath Road
Dukes Avenue - Chiswick High Road - Bourne Place
Oxford Road North - Chiswick High Road - Wellesley Road
Town Hall Avenue

High Street, Brentford
Half Acre
Boston Manor Road
Windmill Road
London Road
Ealing Road
Kew Bridge Road

Isleworth & Osterley
Twickenham Road
South Street
London Road
Spur Road
Syon Lane
Grant Way
Jersey Road
Mogden Lane (CPZ days only)
Whitton Dene (CPZ days only)
Summerwood Road (main road only) (CPZ days only)

November 1, 2006