Saturday 21 November 2009

It's unfair to change the rules without any warning

I’ve just returned from the gym and am still really wound-up with frustration.

Let me explain.

I live in North London and am proud to be a citizen of Crouch End. Until recently, we have had a very benevolent local council (Haringey) who have very kindly allowed us, the mere rate-payers, to use a car park at the rear of the local public library every Saturday so that we can do our local shopping (and use the library). During weekdays, the car park is reserved for local authority workers. But at weekends, for the past 15 years or so, it’s been freely available for anyone to use. This arrangement has not caused any problems with council workers, as they don’t use those car park spaces on weekends anyway.

So you can imagine my mood change when I arrived at the car park this morning to see a new set of signs by the entrance gates. We ratepayers are now only permitted to use a fraction of the par park, and even then we can only park for 2 hours. That’s not sufficient time for the many Crouchenders like me who first use one of the local gyms and then queue for ages at the check outs in Budgens and Waitrose before we can return to our cars. So we’re annoyed. Really annoyed. In fact, we’re so annoyed that we’re even blogging about it...

The signs at the car park entrance are pretty shamefully worded too. They explain that “Wheel clamps and vehicle removals are in operation”. Parking is not permitted in spaces now reserved for library staff. The clamp fee is £100. The tow fee is £100. Storage charges for these towed vehicles are £30 a day. And all patrons are warned that there could be long delays in unclamping vehicles. Finally I read the statement; “Library staff have no involvement in parking issues and do not call Wing Security to clamp or tow vehicles – for all enquiries regarding these matters call the number above”.


No prior warning was given that the parking rules were to be changed. Nor is there any explanation for this radical change of policy. Nor are there any contact details for those responsible for this matter. All we locals can do is vent our frustration at the security contractors who are are hardly going to be sympathetic as they likely to benefit financially as a result of this new policy. A lot of people were caught unawares and are very angry.

We can all live with situations where we are given fair warning that the rules are about to be changed, as we can then plan ahead and make other arrangements. But, when no warning at all is given about an abrupt change in strategy that costs victims a possible penalty of £230, it really does erode the confidence I have (or had) in my local council.