Is it just me? Am I the only person to get het up about things which I can’t do that much about? I’m not talking about some extraordinary intellectual dilemma or a moral crisis or even a mid-life crisis. Frankly, I’m past one of those so let’s rule that out right now.
I’m talking about traffic regulations. I’m talking about parking regulations. I’m even going to toss in the Highway Code for good measure. Last week, one of our Kensington Court Mansions’ residents moved out after a long rental tenancy. He had a lot of stuff, to put it mildly, so needed the removal van for three consecutive days. I don’t know if he had three vans or if the same van returned on a daily basis to shuttle the contents of his flat, plants and all, to a storage depot. Whatever, he’d been resident long enough to know the regulations and the removal company was London based, so they too should have known the procedure.
Did they apply for a parking suspension? Did they hell! The lorry simply parked itself between the two island blocks in the centre of the court and stayed there, blocking the through-traffic from nine am until about four thirty in the afternoon each day, for three days. A parking ticket was issued on the first day and was, I suspect, defiantly displayed for the following two days. Maybe I am being unfair. Maybe it wasn’t the same ticket, but that ticket became tattier and more ragged as the days continued, so I drew the apparent conclusion. By Friday, the ticket was a limply pathetic testimony to the vigilance of the local traffic wardens.
Obviously, it’s cheaper to incur a fine and pay it promptly thus earning a rebate of fifty percent, than to pay the bay suspension charge. If the wardens are operating on a one ticket per vehicle per day basis, this is certainly the case. I asked the driver why he was so parked (or rather not parked), as he reluctantly edged the lorry back to allow me to leave my space.
‘I’ve paid the bleedin’ ticket for today,’ the burly chap informed me, ‘so bugger off!’
Being under the impression that it was against the law to block a public thoroughfare for more than twenty minutes, I called the police. They arrived and helped guide the offending lorry into a Respark space outside our building, unsuspended and subsequently un-fined, because as previously announced, he’d paid his fine for that day, and probably all subsequent days. When a neighbor’s wife returned from the school-supermarket-playdate run in the afternoon with child and shopping, she complained to the driver that his lorry was using the three remaining spaces of the residents’ area not occupied by residents and asked where she was supposed to park. She received the same message about the fine, and similar advice about where to go, though in stronger terms.
The second day was a repeat performance. The traffic warden was spotted chatting amicably to the same driver. When my husband veered in her direction to ask why she was not doing anything about this apparent contravention, she scuttled away at top speed, and was not seen again for the remainder of the day. I called the Parking Department of the RBKC. A gentleman with a clip-board arrived, took some photographs, made notes and left. The outcome can only have been a rout for the Council as the lorry remained in situ, blocking the through-road and forcing cars to reverse the wrong way along a one-way system. I called the police. They arrived, chatted with the driver and left.
By the third day, a Friday, I knew it was useless. I thought I understood both the Highway Code, -that you may not block a public thoroughfare without permission-, and the parking regulations which state that if you park in a residents’ bay, you must display a valid permit. Obviously there are two sets of regulations: one for us, the hapless residents and one for removals companies….and, let me not forget, people collecting visas from the Iranian Consulate. They are also on friendly terms with the wardens.
These drivers know they will get away with it and that the parking fine is cheaper than the suspension charge, especially if one ticket can be spread over three days. Presumably the fines are also negligible…so why bother. Mercifully, there were no emergencies demanding immediate access and, given the attitude of that particular driver, it wouldn’t have surprised me at all to have heard him tell an ambulance driver to “bugger” off as well.
I am surprised that the RBKC allow this to happen and that they are oblivious to the revenue earning opportunity such impolite and cavalier conduct could provide. Those who flout the established system should find themselves facing fines of double the cost of the bay suspension for every day they flout it. That would give them cause for thought, wouldn’t it. And someone should have a word with our local police…….
I’m not even going to start on Young Street where those managing the massive building project have behaved impeccably and the others; deliverers, shoppers at Whole Foods, waiting taxis, people using the Nat West cash machine, patrons of Pain Quotidien, chauffeurs etc park on double yellow lines without challenge.
And this morning, I nearly collided with Her Majesty’s Royal Mail, whose red van decided to skip the circular route and drive against the permitted traffic flow from the post box on the corner of Thackeray Street to the one at the top of the Court. I was looking the wrong way, or the right depending on how you interpret these things, and had my husband not screamed, I’d have hit him (the mail van, not my husband).
And yet, at the last AGM, I was told, that it’s not that much of a problem……..