Worthing Council-End The Parking Charging System Which Gouges Drivers.
“I call on the Herald to lead a campaign to force the Council to restore the old system which is much fairer, and apologise to all who have fallen foul of their incompetence and greed”.
I’ve just won my parking fine appeal to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, (trafficpenaltytribunal) and it’s time to persuade Worthing Council to change the system from “pay and display” and return it to “pay for what you use”.
Pay and display is a dishonest way to gouge more money out of people parking in the centre of town. This is because the system makes you guess how long you will be staying and the natural reaction is to over-estimate the maximum time you require to make sure you don’t fall foul of a fine. This means the Council will often reap about 3 times as much from each person parking as “pay for what you use”, while it will also accelerate the amount of revenue from parking fines.
A couple of years ago the Council took over the Montague Centre Car Park from a private operator. It decided that the best way to maximize revenue was to change to “pay and display”. No matter that this showed cynical contempt for the voters of Worthing, it was also counterproductive to the local ratepayers because the town has become famous for its expensive and aggressive system of fines and people are taking their business elsewhere. I’ve had much negative reaction on social media site Next Door Findon to this policy from people who were unfairly fined.
I fell foul of the system in July when I made a visit from Findon Village to the centre of Worthing. Because of the Coronavirus lockdown, I’d regularly parked at metres, but this time footfall had risen and I had to try the Montague car park. I parked, left for my appointment and returned after an hour or so to find a £25 fine adorning my car, which would become £50 if I didn’t pay up sharpish and maybe £75. Annoyingly, I only discovered this as I queued up to pay.
“No, replied the council. I was stunned”
I decided to appeal and expected to win. After all, I’d actually been trying to pay so clearly wasn’t trying to pull a fast one. No, replied the council. I was stunned. A local resident of good standing was trying to pay, and Council could just wave an appeal thoughtlessly away? Not only that but to add insult to injury the Council said I should have known the system had changed. Local media was full of it apparently, which was not much use to me, an out-of-towner. Not only that the Council said there were signs all over the car park, and it was my duty every time I parked in Worthing to read the signs to see if the payment arrangements had changed.
Most of the signs declaring the change were packed with difficult-to-read data and with no indication if you didn’t read them you’d be fined, or that the system had changed. The first sign at the entrance to the car park was a little more explicit, but the council failed to realise that because it was sited just after you make a sharp right hand turn into the car park, you then have to turn right again almost instantly, making reading the sign impossible. The second sign was sited high and to the left and was invisible to drivers. The next one pointed away from a driver’s eyeline.
I appealed again. No, came the reply, So I went to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal with little real hope of success, but I won. The adjudicator was very impressive and just asked simple questions. She was swayed I think by the fact because of the Covid lockdown, the Council shouldn’t have assumed people were aware of the change even more than a year afterwards. And she agreed that signs were inadequate. I’d suggested that one simple sign at the entrance saying in big letters “Payment System Changed” would have solved the problem.
Because of council intransigence and arrogance I was treated as dishonest and dumb and had to put up with almost 3 months of aggravation. Surely the Council should have immediately rescinded the fine?
Meanwhile, I call on the Worthing Herald, which wrote a terrific story about my problem (https://www.worthingherald.co.uk/news/people/findon-man-calls-for-another-worthing-car-park-change-3419623), to lead a campaign to force the Council to restore the old system which is much fairer, and apologise to me, and all the others who have fallen foul of their incompetence and greed.