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Hell On Wheels 2 - Everything’s Fine

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Hell On Wheels 2 - Everything’s Fine

Geoff Maxted
August 1, 2013

Police Officer
Eric Pickles is a Member of Parliament who casts a giant shadow. As Community Secretary he has occasionally put his foot in it but also on occasion - no doubt much to the consternation of senior colleagues - talks a bit of common sense. His latest bandwagon is to slag off councils who are ripping off motorists. The latest wheeze he would like to see is to allow drivers to park on yellow lines for a limited time of, say, fifteen minutes to allow for the odd quick errand or chore.

Whether he has an ulterior motive is unclear as it would allow him personally to stop in the High Street for some supplementary pies but, although the idea has appeal, it would likely cause chaos as officials and drivers argued as to what constitutes fifteen minutes. But, overall, he is not wrong. There are now so many fines that, basically, everything’s fine.

Did you know that Westminster Council alone has raked in some 41 million quid in penalties? Count them. That’s a lot of fines. Mr Pickles reckons that the councils of Britain are using driving drivers as cash cows. That is not news to most of us. Council officials, on the other hand, told MPs that parking was not used as a ‘revenue raising exercise’. They also believed that the public understood this as there were so few appeals against fines issued.

DriveWrite is happy to inform councils that the public doesn’t appeal fines because they simply can’t be arsed - if you’ll pardon my French. Although money is tight, life is too short to be dealing with stuff like this. This is why the public acquiesce - they shrug and move on, muttering darkly. The council statement also flies in the face of the fact that the penalty pot is set to rise as councils have announced an intention to increase the money they make from parking by a further £30million this year. Ministers have said that income from what they euphemistically describe as ‘parking services’ is forecast to rise to £634.5million this year.

And people wonder why high streets are struggling. Shopkeepers have to contend with ever increasing business rates as sales decline and shoppers prefer the ease with which they can park at out-of-town centres. It is the same old vicious circle. Revenue from fuel sales have dropped so the answer is to put the price and taxes up. Surely, if you want to sell more fuel and raise revenues then the answer is to bring the prices down! It’s the same with towns. If you want to revive the town centres then make it cheap and easy for motorists to shop there instead of driving us into the arms of the malls.

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