Thursday, 1 November 2012

Parking Mad at Sand Street

A disabled person knows that a special provision exists at Sand Street Car Park, and they will need a smart card costing £3. They go along to their Parish Hall  - they've not been given any information, and that which is coming from the media is scatter gun. That's where they applied for their disabled badge, so it makes sense. Except nothing makes sense in the strange world of Transport and Technical Services. In fact, tucked away on the inside page of the latest Consumer Council Newsletter, they are directed to the TTS offices at Sand Street, but no mention there of photocopies or downloadable forms. This is despite the fact that the new number recognition scheme has been mentioned in two editions, but the first, of course, was just PR, giving no details for the workings of the scheme; the second has details of payments - although it omits the extra charge for debit and credit cards.

She goes along to Sand Street, parks in a disabled space, and makes her way along to the offices, complete with £3 and completes a form. The official there says that is not enough - she will also need to produce her disabled badge - the same badge which is needed on her car to ensure she can park in that space without incurring a fine. So back to the car - and this is a disabled person - and back to the offices with said disabled badge which is photocopied there (so much for the paperless office - why not just scan it?). Then she has to take it back to the car, and fortunately she has not been booked in the meantime for parking in a disabled space without a badge.

I'm not making this up - this is a true story. When she said she was worried about the car being without a badge - and disabled people can't move fast - as she goes and gets it, the official simply was rude and officious and said he had to have it because that was the procedure, completely brushing aside genuine worries about a parking ticket.

Of course, if she had known, she could have taken it with her - but also still risked being given a parking ticket for not displaying a badge. Who
ever thought out this piece of bureaucratic nonsense needs their head examined.

You could take your own photocopy  - if you have access to a photocopy machine, of course, just the thing that every disabled person can be assumed to have! That detail is on the TTS website, if you have access to the internet and can find your way there. I think TTS should have been far more proactive in getting information out. Just dumping a notice on a website really isn't good enough. It's like the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - don't complain - the notice is out there:

"But the plans were on display ."
"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
"That's the display department."
"With a flashlight."
"Ah, well, the lights had probably gone."
"So had the stairs."
"But look, you found the notice, didn't you?"
"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard."
(The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

You also have five minutes to park your car - that's the time allotted. After that, you start to get charged, Now I've driven round when it is busy, and I'm behind other cars going upwards. The space indicator at the front of the car park doesn't allow for disabled spaces, or large cars parked so closely to the white lines that no car can conceivably fit between them, and allow a driver room to get out. I've been to the top of one multi-story car park and down again, and there have been no spaces. That's most likely at busy times of use; it's not something that may only crop up occasionally. Has anyone done any car movement checks?

But that takes more than 5 minutes, so in the new scheme, I'd have to pay. But where do I park my car to pay? I'll have to come down, stop before the exit - so I don't get flagged up for non-payment and fined - and leave my car in the middle of the car park while I go to the machine and pay. The time limit has been thought through by someone who hasn't thought that this could ever happen, but catering for the unexpected and thinking outside the box is something we expect someone at TTS to do. After all, the Chief Officer is paid enough, and the Minister gets a fairly good salary. Brains, however, seem in short supply.

Once you've paid for your parking, you  have 15 minutes to exit the car park. If you leave without paying  for your parking, you'll be issued with a fixed penalty notice. If you go over the limit of 15 minutes, you'll also get a parking ticket. Of course there are exemptions:

6      Requirement to remove vehicle from car park after paying parking charge
(1)    Subject to this Article, a vehicle must be removed from the car park no later than 15 minutes, or such longer time as the Minister allows, after the end of the period described in Article 5(6).
(2)    The Minister may, at any time, allow a longer period for removal of a vehicle from the car park after payment of the parking charge, having regard to the amount of traffic in the car park at that time.

1) means you have 15 minutes to leave. Fine, except when there is a log jam of rush hour traffic and everyone wants to get out. Sand Street is particularly bad because of design for internal jams anyway. That's where (2) comes into play, but how is item (2) policed? When is it in operation?

If I'm delayed leaving because of cars coming in and out, and reversing, at what point does that become an exemption? If you are coming all the way from the top, without any delays, because of the poor design of Sand Street, you will probably take at least 15 minutes. Has anyone tested this in real life situations, and not just at the largest rush hour? Again the limit seems ridiculously short, and the exceptions arbitrary, at a whim, on discretion of the Minister depending on how much traffic counts for a longer time. And the Minister probably won't be the one doing the "allow a longer period" anyway - it will be whoever is monitoring the traffic, so why make the Minister responsible? And if there is heavy traffic, do you know then, or do you just hope that you don't get a penalty notice?

You cannot escape payment - so we are told. The system can even recognise Guernsey number plates, although apart from the lack of any letters, the numbers on a Guernsey number plate are the same size as hours, so I can't fathom the rationale behind that petty little dig at our sister Island. But - let's assume it recognises French, German, Polish etc. What if they don't pay? Issue a summons to the Court? But where do you address it to? I have it on good authority that Jersey does not have access to any other database than the UK one  to identify the vehicle owner. Even if it did, how can you impose a local fine for another jurisdiction? You could only take them to court there, or perhaps Kevin Lewis is going to apply for an extradition order to have them appear in a Jersey Court - for a parking ticket? Let's be honest here - the idea is a non-starter; it's put in as a sop to the pride of the Minister and TTS, who would have to acknowledge that this part of the scheme is unworkable if they were honest.

And finally, when do you pay? According to the law:

"A pay period is a period between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on any day except Sunday." says the law.

Bank Holidays? Christmas Day? If it doesn't fall on a Sunday, you will have to pay. I can see no provision in the law (link above) allowing for that. Even Liberation day is not exempt! It's Parking Mad! So much for our day of freedom; evidently not freedom from schemes which are brought in where fools readily tread. Kevin Lewis, the Minister responsible, should be ashamed of himself! And there I was under the delusion that only Deputy Guy de Faye could mess things up at TTS.

This system is in place as a trial. Seeing some of the problems which beset drivers, it certainly will be one!

1 comment:

James said...

But - let's assume it recognises French, German, Polish etc. What if they don't pay? Issue a summons to the Court?

In the case of the Polish plate, it will probably be addressed to Mr Prawo Jazdy :-)