Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Parking Rage

Three years ago, I wrote about problem parking in the area I live, and the general shiteness of the parking enforcement. Fortunately, since then I haven’t had too many serious issues, there’s been plenty of anti-social twats who’ve left their vehicles overhanging the dropped kerb, and a handful of times I’ve had to ask people to move, but until last week I’d never had to get a car towed away.

Reigate & Banstead Council, which previously had the contract for (not) enforcing parking restrictions were replaced by Sevenoaks Council some time back, my contacts tell me they are making a better fist of things (working off a very low baseline). It’s just a shame Tandridge District Council still don’t want to manage it in-house, as I’m pretty sure a properly managed service would pay for itself. But then TDC and properly managed services aren’t the bedfellows they once were, but the reasons for that are too complex to discuss here.

The demand for parking in local streets appeared to slacken during the initial lockdown last year, probably due to less people visiting shops and work places a short walk away, however, it’s picked up slightly during this latest lockdown. It doesn’t help that some of the local motoring businesses use these streets as storage space for unwanted vehicles (and the authorities make little attempt to stop them). But generally speaking, it’s still quieter during evenings and weekends when demand for parking peaks.

It started one afternoon a couple of weeks ago, a small white car parked across the driveway at the rear of my house, completely blocking my car in. Being a weekday afternoon, when many locals are at work, there was no shortage of parking spaces. Yet this clown ignored the no parking sign on the driveway gate, ignored the empty spaces, and parked their car directly over the access protection line. I called the Police non-emergency number, but the Police couldn’t trace the driver and had no units available. The best they could offer was a promise to attend in the morning if I was still blocked in. I also reported it to Sevenoaks Council, but I’d left it too late for daytime enforcement and it appears out of hours cover is still a shortcoming. Fortunately, the twat removed the vehicle a few hours later, but not before I had to rejig personal commitments.

A day or two later the same car was parked a little further up the road, and I spotted the driver getting in and pulling away, it appeared to be woman of Indian heritage. This time she’d had the decency to use one of the many free spaces. But the following week, on a Wednesday morning, the car was back and again blocking my car in. As it was a week day, during the day, there was again plenty of empty spaces, but the twat has once again ignored them all and parked straight across the access protection markings. I was livid, this was clearly someone taking the piss, it was a genuine inconvenience as I had stuff to do, and there was just no fucking need for it.

I call the Police non-emergency number again; I made it clear this was starting to look like deliberate anti-social behaviour. This time the Police agreed to send a unit when one became available. I also called Sevenoaks where the lady I spoke to expressed surprise that someone would actually park over access protection markings (a dog bone as she called it) rather than use an empty space. In the end I didn’t need Sevenoaks, the Police turned up within an hour or so and a tow truck duly removed the car (I don’t think it helped when the Police realised it had no MOT).

One of the officers suggested I should put a larger no parking sign on the gate, which I’ve since done, and get the access protection markings refreshed as they are a bit worn, which I’m looking into. But he accepted there was really no excuse for blocking me in, when even the most cursory glance around showed there was no justification. Which made me wonder if the twat driving the car was fully compos mentis?  

Typically, the people who cause problems are driving commercial vehicles such as tradesman who are inclined to dump their vans wherever they can be arsed. Although, most of the time they will move without a fuss if you ask. One such character lives down the road, a deviant hybrid of Captain Jack Sparrow and a cheap Post Malone impersonator, he stinks of weed and once told me it was okay to overhang my drive because he knows the person who owns the house behind mine. It was a complete non-sequitur, but stoners aren’t noted for coherent thoughts.

I once had an argument with a neighbour who owns a garage opposite. Bizarrely, her justification for blocking my driveway was that she didn’t get to choose who parked outside the front of her house, as if in some strange tangential way this was relevant to the entirely unrelated traffic offence she was committing. I helpfully suggested she could park on her own driveway, in front of her own garage, but apparently this inconvenienced her husband’s easy access to the garage. It was simply easier to block my driveway than her own. I couldn’t fault this logic, even if it was missing the point. Since then, I’ve learned she’s somewhat unhinged, and her behavioural issues cause problems for other neighbours and even her husband; but on the positive side she does now park on her own driveway. 

The little white car was back the next day; and ever since it’s stuck to using empty spaces, albeit it often displays slightly haphazard positioning, as if the driver really struggles with basic parking, particularly on kerb. The Police told me it was registered in neighbouring Croydon, where parking on the kerb is generally banned (a London wide policy); so perhaps the driver picked my driveway precisely because the kerb was dropped making it convenient for someone with poor parking skills? I thought she may work in a nearby shop, which made me feel a little sad the car was impounded, but my wife has seen her since and doesn’t believe this. However, it’s clear the driver is smart enough to avoid the parking restrictions around the nearby shops and offices, which means she’s smart enough not block me in for no reason. 

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