Fairness? Common Sense? Francais? Angled Parking?
by Peter Guest
When I went to build a garage at my UK home, the local council decided that, to allow this, I would have to pay for “the necessary supporting infrastructure” (i.e., the cost of dropping the edge of the footway outside my house so that I could drive in and out).
When a new store was built up the road, the council decided that the developer should pay for “the necessary supporting infrastructure” (i.e., a new road junction to access the carpark, with traffic signals, pedestrian crossings and so on).
And the UK government has again decided how to increase access to London by plane, by giving the privately owned London Heathrow Airport approval in principle to build a third runway.
But the government also announced that it would spend £5bn to provide “the necessary supporting infrastructure” that the Spanish owners would need to make the airport work. I’m OK with the government paying when Heathrow was state-owned, but that nice Mrs. Thatcher sold it off.
Why are UK taxpayers subsidizing the bottom line of a Spanish company?
Not too much to worry about, though; nothing is likely to happen apart from a lot of hot air and smoke. Here’s why:
The government has come up with report after report after report since the 1960s. Each time a recommendation has been made by an “independent” commission that has been politically unachievable.
Because our present PM has publically said that this would never happen, and many of his own MPs represent the areas that would be most negatively affected by the development, I suspect that this has less chance of happening than I do of becoming king.
How about an outbreak of common sense?
Way back in 1835, the UK Highways Act made it an offense to “willfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers.”
In words of one syllable, you can’t drive on the footway or park (since you have to drive onto the footway to park). The law is still there and enforceable, but everyone pretends it isn’t, because instead of ticketing the car, the driver has to be taken to court.
In 1969, the late lamented Greater London Council got local legislation to strengthen the law for London by explicitly banning footway parking. In the rest of the country, councils wring their hands and say, “We can’t stop it,” which translates as “We can’t be arsed.”
Now there’s half a solution. Councils can make an order to ban footway parking and then issue tickets, but requires an order, and the council has to erect signs. This is like going round three sides of a square.
The law is there. It’s a crime to park on a footway, so why not simply re-enact s72 of the 1835 Highway Act as a ticket-able offense and allow councils to erect signs only where they want to permit parking.
No wonder we lost an Empire!
Pour le découragement
Mark Rouse from Portsmouth Hampshire has just started 16 weeks of jail time. His crime was to forge a free residents’ parking permit so that he could park his car outside his new home. In six months, he saved about $250 in parking fees.
Now, I have no time at all for this type of behavior, but on closer inspection, there does seem to be a subplot that suggests that just perhaps the rules were not quite as fair as they might be.
When Mark moved into his new home, the council gave him a free six-week residents’ parking permit; so far, so good. However, when he applied for a permanent permit, it was refused because the car wasn’t registered to him.
(That’s not at all uncommon in a land where more than half of all cars are company purchases, given as tax efficient “perks” to worker bees.)
So, on Sunday, he is OK; he can park for free with the council’s blessing. On Monday, no, no way; go away; you haven’t got a tick in the box.
Now, councils sensibly require “proof of ownership” in city center areas to stop workers from cheating the system, but surely their system should be real-world enough to deal with this scenario.
Still, that’s no reason to cheat, and, I suspect, he won’t do it again.
Pour le découragement des autres (Non!)
But Alex McFarlane from Basildon Essex just got away with keeping his license, even though he had managed to get 42 points on his license in three months. Over here in the UK, if you get 12 points in three years, the courts usually take your license away for at least six months.
Alex’s exploits included doing 109 mph in a 50 mph limit and red light-running. On each occasion, he ignored the police follow-up and finally got dragged into court where, amazingly, the magistrates allowed him to keep his license, because its loss would mean that the construction site manager would lose his job and not be able to pay off his debts.
Essex Police were so upset by this that they have asked the public to “rat him out” if he ever goes even 1 mph over the posted limit.
Me? I don’t care if he loses his job. I don’t want him in a car on any tarmac that me or mine might be using.
And finally …
I have been having quite a debate with some of my colleagues about the pros and cons of
Part of the argument is that angled bays are easier to use. Now I dispute this. I frequently use a local carpark with angled bays, and the inability of local drivers to get their motorized biscuit tins between the lines is, if anything, worse than for 90-degree stalls.
However, another colleague has raised a very interesting point. More and more cars are being equipped with auto-parking systems and – I believe, but may be wrong – these systems all reverse-park into 90-degree bays and, therefore, can’t “do” angled parking.
If true, all angled carparks have just become dinosaurs. Any contrary views or observations are encouraged.
Peter Guest, a Consultant in the UK, is PT’s Editor-at-Large on all things British, European, Middle Eastern and Indian. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.