Forgive a short meander off the usual overgrown path. But there is a rumbling controversy surrounding allegations that town councils in England use parking fines as a "cash cow". The latest development is that the parliamentary Transport Committee has told councils they should publish annual accounts if they want to disprove, to quote the committee chairman, "the deep-rooted public perception that parking enforcement is used as a cash cow". Now, as regular readers will know, I spend a fair amount of time on the road following overgrown paths. One journey earlier this year took me to Morocco which produced posts including the very pertinent They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. En route from our home in Norfolk to Gatwick Airport we stopped in East Grinstead for a meal. As it was a Wednesday afternoon in early March the town centre car park was almost empty, as can be seen from the accompanying photos which were taken on the day.
When we returned to the car we were astonished to find we had been given a £50 parking fine, despite the car displaying a valid parking ticket. The fine was because the car was "not parked correctly" - see photo below. A resident whose house overlooks the car park came over to commiserate saying that such over-zealousness by parking wardens happens "almost every day".
The £50 fine was reduced to £25 if paid within fourteen days. As we were out of the country for more than two weeks and about to catch a flight we had no alternative but to pay the fine on the spot using a mobile phone. When we returned a stiff complaint and the two photos were sent to Mid Sussex District Council who manage the car park. A few days later we we received grudging notification from the Council that "in the circumstances" the fine was being refunded. The camera never lies and the "deep-rooted public perception that parking enforcement is used as a cash cow" is perfectly justified.
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