Look At It This Way - June 17, 2011

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Parking wardens aren’t the most popular of chaps. In fact I’d go so far as to say they make a fair few folk very angry indeed.

To be fair to those hard working protectors of our precious parking spots (whether multi-storey or on street) they are, at the end of the day, just doing a job.

I’m quite sure that down the pub they’re very affable people but, let’s face it, nobody likes getting a ticket, particularly when we feel it’s undeserved.

“I’m only five minutes over,” , “I got stuck in a queue,”, “Those yellow lines are looking quite faded...” – we’ve all tried to get away with it, haven’t we?

It can’t be an easy job, dealing with the public, particularly when you’ve just slapped them with a whopping fine, and it isn’t getting any easier.

These folks are not only on the lookout for drivers who’ve overstayed their welcome, or treated the double yellows as more of a guideline than strict rule – there’s fraudsters out there as well.

Presumably to save a few bob, some folk are abusing the blue badge system, set up to help people with genuine disabilities get to the shops, or wherever else they might want to go, with the minimum of inconvenience.

There’s been a sharp rise in the number of cases where family members have “borrowed” blue badges, leaving no space to park for those genuinely in need.

So then, those traffic wardens we all complain about really do provide a valuable service.

Just ask the good people of Aberystwyth, where a dispute between the local authority and police force has left the town with no wardens at all. The ensuing free-for-all is driving traders potty.

Since May 31, locals claim the town has descended into chaos, with double yellow lines ignored and pavements blocked.

One cheeky motorist, interviewed on the magic lantern, grinned at the camera as he admitted to parking where he liked.

“Who’s going to stop me?” he asked, with a twinkle in his eye..

Elsewhere in the town, there have been tales of punch-ups and downright anarchy – all despite police assurances they would still deal with anybody actually causing an obstruction.

The local council insists it will, like the majority of authorities, take over responsibility for parking enforcement but, in the meantime, Aberystwyth is showing us all what life would be like without the noble traffic warden.

Yes, they’ve got a reputation for being unpopular, but see what happens when you take them away?

Long live the parking warden – just the ticket to keep traffic anarchy at bay.

Rob Stocks

Jacqui Morley will return next week