Parking scourge

PUBLISHED: 10:44 03 December 2009 | UPDATED: 14:44 06 May 2010

SIR – With reference to the letter (Herts Advertiser, November 19) Beware threat of traffic wardens , I entirely agree with the sentiment expressed by Mr Barry Cashin. I believe that I have been a victim of a stealth parking scheme in St Albans and I tho

SIR - With reference to the letter (Herts Advertiser, November 19) "Beware threat of traffic wardens", I entirely agree with the sentiment expressed by Mr Barry Cashin.

I believe that I have been a victim of a stealth parking scheme in St Albans and I thought you might be interested to know why I have just decided never to shop there again.

On July 14, I parked in a large bay, big enough for several cars, just east of the Town Hall in St Peter's Street. The parking signs were, to say the least, confusing, with a "Market trader loading only Sat. Wed and other days 1.00-9.30am 4.00-7.30pm" notice and large P for parking with "At other times and on non market days 20 minutes. No return within 30 minutes" notice.

As I was only picking up a reserved item from HMV I thought this would be ideal.

I returned to my car four minutes later to find a traffic enforcement officer taking a photo of my car. I said: "You haven't given me a ticket have you. I've got 20 minutes," to which he replied it was coaches only.

When I checked the board there was a small picture of a coach with writing less than half the size of all the other writing on the board stating coaches only.

I appealed the decision stating I could ill afford to pay the £35 fine and had only been parked for at most four minutes in a bay where no-one else was parked, which had a confusing and contradictory sign.

Three months later, I received a letter stating I had to pay the fine or could appeal and risk having to pay £70.

Fearing I would have to pay double, I sent off my cheque with a note stating that I would like the matter looked into further as it was my belief the signage was not clear, the letters for 'Coaches only' being significantly smaller than all the other lettering and it would be more sense to make the lettering much bigger and place it at the top of the board as this is the most important thing that any motorist looks for.

Additionally coaches only should be painted on the road in the bay so there can be no misunderstanding. Otherwise it looks like an attempt to raise money by deliberately misleading people as has happened to me.

I received a response stating that my cheque had been received and that there was no provision in the Traffic Management Act 2004 for a motorist in receipt of a Penalty Charge Notice to make payment of the charge and then to make representations against its service.

In other words once you've paid your fine, no further discussion would be entertained. So they've got you over a barrel and you can't win.

If the aim of the council were to reserve this space for coaches only, then surely they would be interested in making it clearer. The use of the white P on a blue background, a nationally recognised symbol for parking, is in this case highly misleading.

The fact the council just fell back on the formula that the signage complied with the regulations, suggests they are not interested in reserving this space for coaches and are quite happy if it lures unsuspecting motorists into a position where the council can extract money from their pockets.

Further to this on Sunday, November 22, at around 3.30pm, I revisited the bay in the high street to check on the signs and noticed that small "coaches only" stickers had obviously been added under the pictures of the coaches at some stage. Clearly when the bay was established it was for 20 minutes short-stay parking for cars and coaches.

In the few minutes that I was there, three cars stopped to park and were quickly targeted by a traffic enforcement officer.

It would be interesting to know when it was decided to add "coaches only" to these signs and how much money has been raised from innocent motorists who have fallen into this trap.

STEPHEN OAKES-MONGER

Park Road, Radlett

SIR - I am writing to you regarding the letter written by Mr Cashin, about the "Scourge Of Traffic Wardens" (Herts Advertiser, November 19).

May I first point out that under those blue and yellow coats, there are human being as young as 18 working tirelessly to keep your streets and highways clear and free flowing, making sure the elderly and disabled have a place to park close to shops and make sure your children/grandchildren can safely cross the road without double-parked cars and clogged up roads.

After watching a recent programme about traffic wardens on Channel 4, I can completely understand that with people like Mr Cashin our civil enforcement officers have training in conflict management.

Mr Cashin has a point about the design of St Albans streets and how they are unable to cope with the mass of modern-day traffic, is this really the traffic wardens' fault?

If all our traffic wardens were taken away I'm sure Mr Cashin would be the first to complain about the state and lack of parking and the the state of the streets.

So please Mr Cashin, remember that without the wardens there would be chaos and any tourist coming to St Albans would very quickly find it difficult to park and therefore not enjoy their stay, consequently making them reluctant to return.

NAME & ADDRESS

SUPPLIED

SIR - I can empathise with Mr Cashin's views on the parking situation in St Albans. I went to attend a concert in the cathedral on New Year's Day, which started at 7.30pm. I found that parking restrictions were in force until 8pm necessitating a frantic search for a space before the concert started.

Later this year I went for a meal at a city-centre restaurant. I took pains to ensure that I had parked in part of Market Place where there were no apparent restrictions. I returned to my car later to find that I had received a penalty notice. I was not alone as several other cars had received the same. This ticket was issued at 8.50pm.

I could not believe that traffic wardens were slithering about the streets at this time of night. I returned to the scene the following morning in daylight and could then see a plethora of signs restricting parking at various times and on various days.

If you wish to check them out take a deckchair as there are so many you will be there for a while. I appealed the ticket on the grounds of a genuine mistake. Needless to say I had to cough up. I went home soured by my experience.

I decided to make a rough estimate of my spending in St Albans over a year and it comes to a pretty hefty figure. So, as St Albans has penalised me I decided to strike back with my wallet and I now do all my shopping elsewhere. Wake up St Albans, this recession will not be over for some time yet.

The main street is beginning to resemble toothless gums. Reduce the parking prohibition to 6pm at the latest. Take a look at your signage and get it cleared up and spelt out in plain English. I want to be welomed to St Albans not attacked for patronising the city.

NAME & ADDRESS

SUPPLIED


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