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Bonkers Blog February 2009

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28 February - Parking in Gayton Road - click image for photo gallery (1 image)

Gestapo carSix weeks ago on 17th January, my daughter who has multiple sclerosis was put on a train at London Bridge and I needed to collect her at Abbey Wood station. Probably I should have arranged to meet her on the north side of the track but Thames Water had the road up and Bexley council had banned parking and was enforcing it with cameras. So I opted to go to Gayton Road where there are about six spaces for both shoppers and those meeting people at the station. All of them were full, one being occupied by one of the council’s mobile Stasi cams. I went around the loop formed by Florence, Abbey, Wilton and Gayton Roads five times without finding a space by which time some helpful soul had carried my daughter out of the station and she was sitting outside.

My only option was to double park on the Greenwich side of Wilton Road, out of sight of Bexley’s spy car and flash my lights in the hope that I would be seen. Eventually I was and my daughter half limped half crawled to my car wondering what I was playing at.

The next day I asked the council via the Contact Us page of its website what the mobile spy cam was actually doing. As is always the case with enquiries to Bexley council, after ten days I had heard nothing at all so I emailed Customer Services to ask if I really had to write to the Chief Executive’s office again. When nothing had happened by the 4th February I wrote to the Chief Executive with a copy to my local councillor adding for good measure that following road resurfacing that the parking spaces had been much reduced in width. Even a tiny Ford Ka wouldn’t fit in them. Both the councillor and the Head of Customer Services responded the same day! The latter, Graham Ward, said that the council’s Mobile In-car Camera Enforcement vehicles (MICE) were spying only on those parking at the bus stop. Goodness knows why because there are already three fixed cameras looking at it. But at least it was a straight-forward answer, even if it was harder to get than it should have been.

The very next day Mr. Ward emailed again. “Regarding the bays, I had them checked this morning and they are narrower than I would normally expect. Rather than get in to the history as to why they were put in as they were I have arranged for them to resized in coming weeks, weather permitting!” Needless to say it snowed the next day but Mr. Ward was as good as his word. As soon as the snow went away the spaces were made a more sensible size. This is in marked contrast to when 170 cm wide spaces were provided in Abbey Road and I was told that nothing would be done about it until they were challenged in court. Thank you Martin Low, Assistant Chief Engineer (Policy). Where would petty bureaucracy be without people like you?

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