Friday 1 February 2013

Council launches charm offensive

Motorists who parked their cars in the main mart car park in Newcastle Emlyn the other Sunday were shocked to discover that they had received a ticket when they returned. In fact, every single car parked in the council car park had been ticketed following the introduction of parking charges for Sundays.

Cneifiwr is pleased to say, rather smugly, that he was not one of those caught in the raid.

To be fair, there would probably have been no more than about a dozen fines if the average Sunday is anything to go by, but the council clearly thought it was worthwhile paying someone to travel out on a Sunday to get its message across.

Unsurprisingly people who had parked while going to chapel or church, or stopped briefly to go and buy a newspaper or a pint of milk were none too pleased, but the Council told the Carmarthen Journal (story not yet online) that rules were rules.

Fortunately the newspaper probably won't tell the town's residents about the Chief Executive's "cash advance" (in the Western Mail today: WARNING: this article contains a disturbing image), or they might get very angry indeed.

Not so many years ago car parking in this small market town was free, but as is the way with so many things, charges were introduced and have been ramped up every year ever since. Not long after charges were introduced someone rammed the parking machine with what must have been a small tank and put it out of action for a while. Luckily, the council had CCTV monitoring the car park, and the villain was given a stiff fine.

Unfortunately the spiralling cost of parking has not been matched by any improvement in maintenance of the car park. There was a short burst of pothole filling last year and the parking bay lines were re-painted, but parts of the car park regularly flood thanks to inadequate drainage, and new monster potholes are developing.

Local people who do not want to wreck their vehicles or pay parking fines have long since realised that double yellow lines in the main street mean "park here for free". The police very rarely hand out fines, and the search is on for a genuine police parking ticket to be displayed in the town's museum.

Cneifiwr has even seen anarchist drivers (e.g. lady nipping into a very expesnive frock shop) who park in the one free lane of the very narrow main road, the other having been turned into a car park, and bring the entire town to a standstill for up to half an hour. They have been given a mild ticking off and sent on their way.

Of course all this would have stopped long ago if the town's residents hadn't kicked up such a fuss about allowing the council to turn the town (population  of around 1,500) into the place with the largest concentration of supermarkets per square mile in Wales.

The council's planning officers thought that free car parking in supermarket car parks was wonderful, and they highlighted all the other benefits which would have been showered upon us in return for shutting down the pokey little independent shops.

But that was not to be. So that pint of milk you want to buy will cost you at least 30p more than at a supermarket thanks to the car parking charges, and it could cost you a whole lot more if you don't buy a ticket.

Best to park on those double yellow lines, then.


Anonymous said...

I'm puzzled as the council's guide to parking charges (January 2013) on the website states that the charges only apply
"8.00am-6.00pm Mondays to Saturdays" - applicable to Mart, Castle & Cawdor.

Anonymous said...

I feel sick after seeing that article in the Western Mail!

Anonymous said...

Anon 17.34

Think there is a loophole here for people to challenge the fine!
The Website should be up-to-date.

Anna Mosity said...

Parking is free on Sunday's at East Gate, Llanelli. Odeon must have demanded it...

Pedant said...

Strictly speaking you cannot be fined for off-street parking. The penalty is an additional charge.

Robert said...

Nothing surprises me anymore.