Beware threat of traffic wardens

PUBLISHED: 11:25 19 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:41 06 May 2010

SIR – St Albans was once famed for its appeal to shoppers. For years, people would drive from outlying towns and villages to visit our bustling market and fine shops: Timothy Whites, Woolworths, Saxbys the butchers and perhaps Thrales for a tea and sandwi

SIR - St Albans was once famed for its appeal to shoppers. For years, people would drive from outlying towns and villages to visit our bustling market and fine shops: Timothy Whites, Woolworths, Saxbys the butchers and perhaps Thrales for a tea and sandwich.

The market was buzzing with life from the top of Catherine Street right down to the Boot pub. Over the past 20 years, there has been a marked diminution in visitor numbers marked by empty, less frequented shops and a market that is rarely ever full of stalls.

Yes, some of the iconic retail names have disappeared with the sands of time but it is another scourge other than commercial change which has hastened its demise.

It comes in the form of blue jacketed, flat-capped, machine-bearing monsters of the human kind.

I am talking traffic wardens, or civil enforcement officers to give them their correct, more modern official title.

With streets poorly designed to deal with the demands of modern traffic and inadequate car parking due to council apathy and budget constraints, the visitors, like the UK bee population this summer, have been much fewer in number.

Why? The wardens have been dishing out parking notices like confetti. It doesn't matter whether you are ill, old, disabled or plain ignorant, the wardens will run out from the doorways and alleys to stick a ticket on your screen faster than you can say "why shop in St Albans?"

And so the beleaguered motorist, already hacked off at government level with punitive car, fuel and insurance taxes are voting with their feet (or should I say steering wheel) and making a beeline for other towns with better facilities and less zealous parking officialdom.

If the wardens of St Albans were paid commission on the number of tickets handed out, they'd earn enough to drive around in luxury cars but that will, thankfully, never happen - not in St Albans anyway.

Within a few short years at the rate they are going, the 'for sale' hoardings along the High Street will outnumber the occupied units and tumbleweed might fleetingly roll down St Peter's Street as the faint echoes of Ghost Town by 1980s pop group The Specials crackles out from an old speaker, when all the visitors have gone. You have been warned!

BARRY CASHIN

Green Lane, St Albans

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