Thursday, 10 January 2008


It was time for the periodic Police and Community Safety Forum this week and a collection of the usual suspects gathered at Miers Avenue to listen to the presentations. The Police predictably came in for criticism about failing to respond quickly enough and there was some discussion about the 500% increase in violent crime that was reported in the Hartlepool Mail that day. I say the criticism was predicable not because I think the Police do a bad job but because the job they do will never be good enough (in some people’s opinions).

The perennial subject of sea coal wagons received an airing as did the wonders of CCTV. Then came the final presentation of the day, Parking. More specifically Parking on pavements. After the presentation one “Campaigning Councillor” launched into a rant and rave about the evils of people who park on the pavement and the general gutlessness of the Police and Hartlepool Council when it comes to enforcement. Now I know that many of people who attend these events would quite happily see me dead in a gutter so as usual I was my own worst enemy and actually said what I thought about the situation.

Parking on pavements is a problem, but so is parking in general. I had actually been asked by a resident to raise the issue and to point out he has in fact received a ticket for just such an “offence” He felt rather aggrieved by this as he parked half on the pavement to allow the road to remain open enough for other vehicles to continue using it. He therefore thought he was doing a good thing! If the Police and Council ticket every car that parks on the pavement then after a few £30 fines (rising to £60 if not paid promptly) then people will get the message and stop doing it. Seems like a good idea, lets do that, it will keep the footpaths open. Unfortunately it will close a lot of roads and grid lock large areas of the town. Of course if you are a car hater then this would be a good thing. For the majority of us car users it would be a disaster.

The problem with parking of course is that our towns were not designed for cars and are definitely not designed for two, three and four car families. I have parked a car in the same spot in Beaconsfield Square for nearly 30 years. However a new family recently moved into the Square and were actually very unpleasant to me about parking there because it was on the corner outside their house and therefore “THEIR” parking space. This family now park two cars in the square and have even put up a notice “reserving” the space outside their gate. It’s another few votes “lost” but that’s politics. I am realistic to know that the Council Seat I occupy isn’t “my seat” it is only on loan to me and unlike the Tories in Park or the Labour Councillors in several wards in town I will eventually make enough enemies to lose enough votes so that a new Councillor will take the seat.

There is no answer to Parking problems in narrow streets that will please everyone. The pro car lobby want to park as closed to their homes as possible, think it’s their right to do so and often park on pavements in order to keep the road open. The anti car lobby want cars off the pavements and think it’s not their problem where the cars go after that. It’s a lose/lose situation, just one of many unfortunately when overcrowding reaches problem levels.

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