Last Friday afternoon, (December 6th), Carol and I were walking to the Christmas Market in Park street at about 4-30 pm. We met a gentleman on the London Road Slip Road who seemed in a very agitated state and we saw that two parking wardens were on the scene. We also saw that several cars had parking penalty notices on their windscreens. The gentleman explained that he had already saved several people from getting penalty notices and that nobody realised that the parking arrangements had been changed. I told him that I was a Surrey County Councillor and I gave him my card. On the way back from the town Carol and I walked along the Slip Road – one warden was still present. I returned on Saturday December 7th -once again there were cars with penalty notices on their windscreens and a warden was in the road. I revisited the slip road on Wednesday late morning, December 11th; again a warden was in the road and cars had tickets.
Being extremely concerned about this situation I alerted all of my Surrey Heath county council colleague and sent information to groups, clubs, churches etc. trying to warn people about the new parking arrangements. I also used social media. I was pleased to hear that Rodney Bates had tabled a question on the matter at the SHBC full council meeting on December 12th.
Yesterday I had a telephone call from the gentleman Carol and I had met on Friday December 6th; he had decided to call me to explain what he was doing but after listening for a few minutes I asked him to please send me an email. This gentleman’s name is Michael Edwards and his email appears below -I have his consent to send it to whoever I want.
At the last count I gather that some 800 people had parked illegally in London Road Slip Road since the arrangements changed in Mid- October. Michael Edwards has ‘moved on’ another 100 potential victims. I can only agree with him, and many others, that the statutory public notice warning about these changes was inadequate. That being so I am firmly of the view that all penalties should be refunded for first time offenders, and that the process should start all over again. We are not infallible -we all make mistakes.
Please read Michael Edwards email -then tell me what you think,
From : Michael Edwards
Sent on : 13/12 13:17:45 GMT
Subject : Parking – London Road A30 – We met last Friday
Hello Mr Fuller
Thank you for our conversation this morning.
My experience , when we met, on Friday 6th December 2013 , and subsequently, has been, as follows:
-I was warning people not to park there as the traffic wardens are having a field day.
-My issue is that what they are doing is unfair – whilst legal – the signage is abysmal AND that there was no notice easily visible that this had changed – bearing in mind that also it gets dark early and people really cannot see these signs ontop of the poles.
-One person who was caught, put up some A4 flyers along the poster wall there, to say it had changed – the council took them down in a day – you try and get the council to move that fast when you want something.
-I was accosted by 1 warden, a black man of African appearance and dialect, who said what I was doing was illegal (warning people not to park or they would get a ticket) . I know that he was wrong (he could see his ticket count going down) and I stood my ground and told him that what he was doing was morally wrong – he got his walkie talkie and (unbeliveably) within 2 minutes – another 2 coloured men also of African appearance and accent appeared around the corner. They thought that the 3 of them would send me packing – it was the other way around.
They hid behind a large white van waiting for people to park – and then pounced.
-I know what they are doing is legal but its not right – Firstly – they should have painted “Resident’s Parking” on the ground along the white line – the same as they do for disabled. Also they should have put up – for some time a highly visible sign saying change of use.
Subsequent to the above:
-I had only got an acknowledgement E-Mail from the council and nothing further – after 2 weeks.
-I called last Friday – but their phones were not working -I have called them this morning – and spoken to various people and ended up with (Mr XXXX) who is one of the parking team (I believe a senior person) We had a frank and good conversation – I highlighed the above and what was it we can do – he was good in explaining that all signage must conform to the Highways Act – but that we can have temorary signage warning people not to park (Prevention is better than the cure in this case) He will E-Mail the sign to another department (how many are there!) and they will put them up – its not an exact science – so he is saying Monday / Tuesday – And I have said I will call Wednesday if there is nothing – persistence is the key.
So – my stance is as follows
1/. We do not have adequate signage – people have parked here for decades and do not know this has been altered / changed
2/. Traffic Wardens are not warning people – they are hiding / lying in wait and then pouncing
3/. The people they are catching are not criminals or chancers they just are not aware – and I feel my fellow residents should not be treated this way.
I hope the council will respond and do something – I do find the attitude should be different when doing this – the ticket count alone should have been enough for the council to realise they are doing something wrong – but putting profit over service and your own morals is a poor way to serve the community – who at the end of the day – pay your wages.
I have not had a ticket myself – I was lucky enough to see the flyers – so far I have warned and moved on about 100 motorists who could have received tickets.
Surrey Gu16 7JX