Wednesday, 2 April 2008

The Way we Live Now: Parking fines: just you wait...

[...] For people whose deepest experience of the intrusive state is the apologetic 50p fine from the library for a late book, or the request from the GP that you bring little Charlie in for a second MMR jab, the new powers to trap will come as an angry shock. As will the size of the fines: motorists outside the capital do not have the spare cash that London drivers, who tend to be fairly wealthy, do. I love the fact that someone somewhere thought rebranding parking wardens as “civil enforcement officers” would do something to counteract the effect.

For there is, as any Londoner knows, something depressingly bullying about people willing you to trip up, wanting to catch you out. And a penalty notice by post, one that threatens another penalty if you do not pay up at once - what a dismal, soul-destroying thing that is. You cannot remember where you were that day, you do not recognise the street, you get the A-Z, you vaguely recall a bus pulling out and forcing you to swerve, and you're not sure so you shrug and pay up. It feels like extortion. Often, it is extortion.

It won't happen immediately, everywhere. But it will creep in around the country, as cash-strapped councils discover new ways to try to make ends meet. Catching unwitting motorists stopping where they shouldn't is an easy revenue-raiser. Read more

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