The other day my dad was visiting me in Guildford and he drive me into town so we could both do some stuff at the banks. We ended up parking in the same road we normally do, a side street just off of North Street.
When we got to the ticket machine we found that the charges had gone up, 70p for thirty minutes. Now, I appreciate that Surrey is a wealthy county but that kind of charge seems extortionate to me. Anyway, we paid £1.40 for an hour like we normally do. However, when the ticket was printed out I noticed that it had only given us thirty minutes, which was irritating to say the least. So we took the ticket and highlighted how much we'd paid and when, scribbled a note on it saying that the meter had given us the wrong time, stuck it on the dashboard and left.
When we got back after about 45 minutes we discovered a ticket on our windscreen. When I picked it up I found a message on the back that the warden had written saying that the meter was correct and that the maximum stay was 30 minutes. It was at this point that we noticed that all the signs said 30 minutes max stay - they'd been changed since we were last there. Now, I know this was our fault, we should have checked before parking but we were so used to it being an hour max stay that we didn't bother to check.
Fortunately, when we looked inside the ticket bag we found it was empty - the warden had clearly applied some common sense and decided to just leave a note and let us off on this occasion as it was a genuine mistake and that we had paid for a full hour. So, it just goes to show, there are traffic wardens who aren't complete dicks!
But the thing that gets me is this. Why did the council reduce the max stay to 30 minutes? And how can they justify raising the charges?
For example, say I park there to go to the Nationwide. It'll take me 15 minutes to walk there and back. And if there's a queue it could take me 15 minutes inside the bank. So all I can do is one thing, I can't stop off in M&S or Sainsbury's to pick up a few bits and bobs, I can't nip into WHSmith's for some more toothpaste, all I can do is dash to the bank and dash back as quickly as possible. How does that possibly benefit local businesses? Thirty minutes is simply not enough time to get from the car to the high street, do some meaningful shopping and get back again. I, for example, prefer to go to Jack's for a haircut, there's no way I could do that with a 30 minutes max stay.
Of course, it's not just Guildford Council doing this, I've seen it done in loads of places all over the country. But, seriously, what's the point of a 30 minute max stay? You might as well abolish parking there altogether - it would only be marginally more inconvenient and at least you'd save on the costs of the parking meters and the parking wardens.
And as for the increased charges, I wouldn't mind but they've also just increased the cost of permit holders tickets in my street as well. That wouldn't be so bad if we actually saw a return for our money. But our roads are still the third worst in the entire country and our council hasn't even restocked on salt for winter which means that the roads will be in an even worse state next year. So, I've decided to make my council a deal - you sort out the roads and then I'll be happy to pay increased charges. If not, then fuck off.