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articles > Culture events

Culture

Le cauchemar pour se garer à Londres!

By France in London
29/06/2004

Definition: "Traffic wardens are civilians who assist the police by keeping the traffic flowing and issuing fixed penalty notices for parking and other traffic offences."
"Traffic wardens are employed by the police, parking attendants are employed by a council or by a contractor engaged by a council". (www.met.police.uk/recruitment/ )
 

Top of the page Have you ever been fuming about getting a £50 fine because you were 4 minutes late on returning to your car? Or even better; one evening, you go around for hours trying to find a resident parking space. Finally, you resort to parking half on a yellow line and half on the resident permit space in front of your house, unfortunately, in the morning, you forget to return to your car on time for the 8.30 hostilities to start and you are fined at 8.35. An expensive evening out would you say?!!!
And in the most extreme cases, you have displayed your resident permit, you are parked where you are supposed to be parked and yet you are still fined with no valid reasons. This obviously means that you are going to spend time writing and arguing your case with a less than helpful council when you should be spending time working.


Residents have given up on leading normal lives in Westminster. Forget about friends visiting, taking your shopping out of your car, loading children and elderly relatives in front of your house because whatever you do you are in the wrong and big brother will get you. You have become and additional source of revenue for the council and why should they stop there. Cameras are being placed in all sorts of places to ensure that if you infringe you will be had.
Do you think that the council, by targeting cars that have spend 5 minutes over their time limit or are parked on a single yellow line is helping keep the road safe and flowing. This is to be questioned?
   
         
  Top of the page Of course no one would dispute the fact that in large cities cutting down on the number of cars is absolutely crucial, but let's review the alternatives on offer. By improving public transports, creating more cycle paths, improving the quality of the surface and making the cycle routes safer, councils would motivate more people to switch to cycling. But is it really what the council wants given that it would loose a massive part of its annual revenues? Could it be argued that the council is sitting between two chairs? Do they really have the interest of the public in mind?
         
  Top of the page Although we all understand that it is not right to park illegally, or to cause obstruction to the traffic, most of the time we are penalized merely for being late or not having enough small change. In some boroughs, traffic wardens seem to have more understanding than in others. They appear to show more latitude. Is it because councils don't have the same incentive schemes running?    
       
  Top of the page Some interesting facts:
  • One out of every three fines contested has been issued incorrectly.
  • The first letter written in to complain invariably receives a negative response and requires a second letter before the complaint is finally heard. Is it possible that the council operates s similar system to insurance companies? I.e. always say no the first time because the majority of people will give up arguing their case and pay up in the end.
  • The cash generated through parking tickets from parking attendants in London has more than doubled in 2 years.
  • Westminster made nearly £40 million in 2003, some other borough have increased their revenue by 70%. This is a staggering improvement of efficiency. The same applies to cities such as Edinburgh. The fact that private contractors can be hired is against the ethics of public service.

       
  Top of the page Councils have become experts at making your life even more difficult:
  • Installing the meters in between bays: if you are in a rush or simply dreaming, you put the money in the wrong meter.
  • Hiding the meter behind a tree (on Hereford Road, W2) and with the meter of the adjacent bay in full sight.
  • Not fixing the meters, so it swallows your money and never gives it back. Of course you can call a number, but forget about your money back, in addition you have to pay for the phone call.
  • Not fixing the meters making you walk sometimes 100 yards to find one that works. By the time you come back, you have a fine on your windscreen for not displaying a valid ticket.
  • Extending the metered parking time well after shopping hours. In our little Chiswick area for example, the meters that used to work between 9.30am to 6.30pm have been extended to 7.30am till 7pm. And don't worry at 6.50pm, you can still see traffic warden doing their rounds. You better make sure you check before you park your car because each street is different.
  • Not installing meters that could take other coins than 20p and £1. How many times have you found yourself short of such change?
       
  Top of the page All in all councils are abusing their rights and making you an additional source of revenues. They effectively created through such methods an additional tax.

We are keen to discover what your experience has been over the years and we would like to get your testimonials for us to publish them in a follow up of this article. And who knows, we may even take them to Mr Ken.

If you have any comments and suggestion, please write to enoughisenough@franceinlondon.co.uk

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