Wednesday, December 12, 2012
In response to your front page story “Car park fines ‘not paid’” (Gazette, November 28), the figures come as no great surprise.
Just in case local councils haven’t tuned in to Planet Earth, we live in a low-wage area and ever-increasing austerity measures have reduced disposable income to very little or nothing at all.
No doubt over the years this legalised mugging has brought in substantial revenue.
I would like to share a recent experience with your readers.
I arrived back at my car 13 minutes beyond the allotted time to find one of the council’s own sharks had placed a £50 penalty charge notice on my vehicle.
This amount represents more than a day’s net pay and is enough for fifty-five and a half hours’ parking time.
The question I ask at this point is – does the punishment really fit the crime?
Being in the 60 per cent that wish to keep their finances in good order and generally a good law-abiding citizen, I was faced with two options as I intended to take advantage of the very generous 50 per cent discount for a prompt payment.
My household budget is finely balanced at this time of year, so I could either visit Wonga.com or empty the jar of change I had put aside to help with the expense of Christmas.
After much deliberation, option two seemed the lesser of two evils.
The red mist had not fully lifted and I felt there was a window of opportunity to stage some sort of protest.
I took great trouble in counting out twenty-five pounds of the smallest mixed-denomination coins I could find and set off to clear my debt.
I was polite at all times when tendering my ice cream tub half full of loose change, only to be told it was in an unacceptable form.
Not being one to give up easily, I advised the staff I would not be leaving the building without a written statement to the effect that my money wasn’t good enough.
Eventually, after a number of phone calls to her superiors, the young lady took my money and suggested effective protest would be better made in writing to the appropriate person. This usually falls on deaf ears, hence my letter.
As dog fouling carries a similar fixed-penalty tariff, I would be interested if you could publish the statistics regarding amounts issued and associated statistics.
The public would have to draw their own conclusions when comparing the results.