Trespassing, the Cold North, ULEZ, and a Piece of Cake


Trespassing, the Cold North, ULEZ, and a Piece of Cake

British law relating to trespass is annoyingly vague. Come on to my land without my permission and you are trespassing, and I can ask you to leave, even use “reasonable force” to remove you; but it’s a civil matter and the police won’t get involved unless there is damage. This is particularly frustrating if someone decides to park on your land. You can’t touch them and you’re pretty much stuck with having to go to court to evict them, which takes forever. Remember this in a minute.

Now, I have written about JustPark before. Their business model is to arrange for drivers to park on peoples’ driveways, for payment, saving the parker money compared to local car parks, and making a little extra for the homeowner. Think Airbnb for cars. They take a fee of course and state that “We have rigorous checks in place to ensure that driveways that are advertised on our platform are done so in a proper way.” 

Apparently “rigorous checks” don’t stretch as far as writing to the address, just to check that the people who live there actually contacted them. So, when a couple in Northumberland came home and found a strange car (a JustPark customer) parked in their garden, they were more than a little surprised. They, of course, had no way of knowing that the driver thought that they had done nothing wrong. They had booked the spot and paid for it via JustPark. 

Our homeowners contacted the police who, see above, said “nothing to do with us, a civil matter.” The homeowners tried every way that they could think of to track down the owner and get the car removed, with no luck. Then in a Gordonian knot moment, Barry Newman and Zoe Hameston came up with a brilliant plan. They closed and locked the gate! Why not? It’s their gate and within the law, they can do whatever they want with it. 

Eventually, of course, the driver returns and wants his car. As far as he is concerned, he has done nothing wrong, he’s paid JustPark to use the parking spot, after all. So, he asks for his car. “Sure” say our heroes, but it costs £100 to open the gate. He gets mad and calls the police who, of course, have no interest. So, our driver eventually pays the money and is let out.

Now, JustPark described the couple’s decision to ‘take the law into their own hands and impound’ the car as ‘completely disproportionate’ and said they had ‘reacted inappropriately’. I don’t agree. The problem was wholly created by JustPark not checking adequately. 

In fact, it transpired that their system had flagged this as a possible fraud, but they offered the site anyway. Their problem methinks; and, by the way, selling what you don’t own is a crime and is a police matter. Perhaps they should be just a little more careful in future?

“The Book,” the new car park design manual I’m working on, is beginning to take shape now. We pretty much have a complete first draft, and hopefully, in the next few weeks, will move towards getting a pretty complete final draft. One of the bigger issues that we have been trying to get our heads around is just what changes will have to be made to accommodate electric vehicles. That is, the need to accommodate EV charging in future structures and the implications for vehicle weight

Well, anyway, that was where we were at the start of the year, but with amazing rapidity the ground has moved. Now, there are daily stories of new battery technology and other advances that mean people are already testing technology that will totally recharge a car, from zero, in about five minutes. 

This would take charging (refuelling) straight out of the car park and back into a roadside fuelling station. The weight issue is still very real, however, and we are thinking that some older car parks will have to start posting weight restrictions as the proportion of electric vehicles increases. What’s happening with you guys in the States? You are facing exactly the same issues, but I don’t see anything about what you are planning to do.

Meanwhile, up in the cold north, in Scotland, the Scottish Parliament has finally achieved its objective of removing all parking charges from public hospital parking. They first attempted this some years ago, but stumbled when they realized that they would have to buy out several partnership deals with the private sector where parking companies had invested millions in providing new parking facilities at some of the country’s biggest hospitals. 

Now they have finally managed to buy off these contracts and, rejoice, all hospital parking will be free. Trouble is, as I saw graphically, at one major hospital, people take this as a green light to park anywhere and everywhere, including fire paths, bus stops and ambulance entry points. Under British law, any fine on private land is a charge and you can’t tow (see the start of this article), so that worked out well, didn’t it? I await, with interest, the announcement that buses, trains and taxis going to hospitals will similarly have the burden of cost removed.

The next big thing here seems to be Ultra Low Emission Zones or ULEZ. Many of our cities are failing to achieve the targeted reduction in emissions that they have set/been set as part of the national planned reduction in atmospheric pollution. Central London has had one for some time. The idea, put simply, is to discourage older, more polluting cars from entering the city center. The discouragement being in the form of a swinging daily surcharge to drive in the ULEZ area. 

Not surprisingly, many drivers haven’t the faintest idea what this is all about, especially if they are from out of town, and so they are made aware by equally swinging fines for non-compliance. The city of Portsmouth is just about to introduce an ULEZ which will cover buses, taxis and commercial vehicles, but excludes cars. Controversially, this zone includes all the routes to the docks, so all goods moving through the docks by truck will now be taxed.

Well, it’s that time of year again, so Merry Christmas, or whatever you celebrate, to my readers and to all those wonderful people at Parking Today who put up with John Van Horn all year. If you’re passing this way, you’re welcome to call in for a slice of Mrs. Guest’s amazing Christmas cake. She now makes about six or more large cakes because so many people have said pretty-please, including professional chefs, and she has a soft heart.


Article contributed by:
Peter Guest
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