Monday, 11 February 2013

We suppose that there are still a handful of people who mistakenly cling to the belief that their local council is their friend, and is there to help them solve problems, rather than create new ones.
But that group will surely not include people who are now forced to move their cars every two hours to avoid getting a parking ticket since the new civil parking enforcement powers came into force more than two months ago.
Last week we heard the plight of a resident of Thorold Street – who regularly needs to move his car from outside his house so that he doesn't get a parking ticket.
No-one is complaining about the rules – it’s just that they have not been enforced for ages – in fact, this particular resident and his neighbours have been appealing for the introduction of a residents’ parking permit scheme for years, and have petitioned Boston Borough Council on several occasions.
But strangely, Boston Borough Council – normally so keen to make “savings” by finding ever-new ways to penalise taxpayers – seems deliberately to be dragging its heels on this particular issue.
Councillor Derek Richmond, Boston’s town centre portfolio holder, and the man responsible for parking matters, has said that the council has been waiting for responsibility for parking to pass from police to the county council before they could discuss permits.
This is the standard buck-passing that has epitomised the entire issue of parking in Boston – particularly since the Market Place refurbishment, which has left motorists confused as to where they are allowed to park.
After the work was finished, the council blamed the police for the lack of enforcement. The police said they had insufficient manpower, and pointed out that the county council was due to take over the job, anyway.
The county council staged a honeymoon period for drivers in the week before they started for real by issuing dummy tickets around the town – and then handed out 116 tickets across Boston in the first four days after they took over.
Councillor Richmond, meanwhile, retained the same sympathetic “turkeys don’t vote  for Christmas” approach that he adopted when parking charges were introduced for disabled blue badge holders by saying “I would imagine that everybody driving through here has passed their driving test and if they’ve read the Highway Code they know what the parking rules are anyway. So it’s a bit na├»ve so say they don’t know where they can park or where they can’t park…”
The issue of residents’ parking permits was raised more than five years ago, and even though the change in responsibility for parking enforcement took place at the start of December last year, the borough’s Environment and Performance overview and scrutiny committee is not scheduled to discuss it until June 19.
To try to cut to the chase, independent Councillor Carol Taylor asked the committee chairman Councillor Mark Baker to bring the debate forward to help residents who have difficulty in parking to obtain a parking permit.
His response?
“Thank you for raising your concerns, I will bear this in mind with regards to the other items on the agenda.”
Is that pathetic, or is that pathetic?
There is no reason not to deal with the matter at the committee’s next meeting on 27th March and set the wheels in motion to make life easier for a lot of residents who are willing to pay for peace of mind and not to have ceaselessly to look over their shoulders in case a traffic warden – who calls them civil parking enforcement officers? – is preparing to ticket them when they are quite happy to pay.
It is ironic that the council is dragging its heels over bringing in another stream of income – even though some drivers are still flouting the rules and apparently getting away with it.


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