Motoring: While I’ve Been Away…

Discovery Sport…things have happened and, as ever, blame can be laid squarely at the door of our political masters both local and national. For example; I went to Dorchester. This once historic town with its many fine old buildings is, like so many other towns, not looking its best these days with empty shops and unsympathetic development.

It does however have an excellent Carluccio’s, so I parked the Land Rover Discovery Sport (review next week) in a long stay car park, taking the four hour option. Apart from having to cough up an enormous sum of money which is to be expected these days, I also had to enter the car registration number. This, according to a nearby local, is to prevent ticket holders passing on their part-expired sticker to other drivers.

I understand that councils these days want to drag money out of every orifice but really, it’s still just one car in one space. It might be good for revenue but it seems to me to be joyless, mean-spirited and petty. Thankfully, my spirits were lifted by a kind (and may I say, rather vivacious) lady in an uncensored Marlborough car park a day later who offered up her part-used ticket. What a sweetheart.

And That’s Not All

In Barnstable, the ‘cash-strapped’ council have cut back on highways work by not clearing litter, cutting verges, cleaning signs and fixing small potholes. The result of this is that more than one hundred residents have volunteered to do the work for them out of a highly laudable sense of community spirit – something many places could do with a dose of. Well done to them.

It does however leave a bit of a nasty taste. Just what exactly do we pay council tax for? These good people are paying their dues with money and then paying them again with their labour. Why, the council even insisted they attend Health & Safety courses! Councils are in the state that they are in because of decades of profligate waste. One particular outrage in my personal experience of gross financial mismanagement by a council would take up a whole article in itself. Yet it is basically the same people in charge now as it was then. This is a sorry state of affairs for the 21st Century.

It Gets Worse

We all know that Controlled Parking Zones in very built-up areas are there for the benefit of residents so that they can park outside their homes. It’s a bit contentious, yet unsurprising, that they have to pay the council an annual fee to do so, but that seems to be meekly accepted. It is also possible to obtain temporary permits for visitors and that’s all fine.

The idea has always been that between the hours of approximately 9am to 6pm, permits are needed to stop the roads becoming glorified car parks for commuters; but what happens when the council – in this case Islington – decide to bump the zones up to 24 hours? For the residents and their guests it’s no biggy because it is assumed they will carry on as before. The people that are affected though are local businesses. For example, one local restaurant relies on diners driving in and street parking for free in the evenings. Will they still come if permits are needed? Even the locals know that this is nothing more than another blatant motoring rip-off fund raiser. These people have no shame.

And Then It Gets Even Worserer

It is reported that drink driving deaths are at their highest level for five years with several hundred people meeting their maker thanks to boozed-up drivers. Evidence, if any were needed, that it is not just speed that brings death to our roads, yet we continue to be monitored by spy-in-the-sky cameras without, it so recently appears, the allowance of any leeway. Yet we rarely see the Paddington Bear stare of a grim-faced copper at the side of the road. This is because the police have lost over a thousand traffic cops (with the ability to judge situations on circumstance) and there is now less than than 4500 across the land and, obviously, not all of them are on duty all of the time. Wondering why our roads are becoming more dangerous? Because there’s no one there to do anything about it, that’s why. Or burglaries either come to think of it.

Four quick examples of motoring in Britain in the 21st Century. Depressing isn’t it? It’s enough to spoil your erection, sorry, election selection for next time. Who shall we vote for? Personally I’m thinking Jeremy Corbyn. It would be fun watching him try to re-nationalise the arse out of everything but you get the impression that he might not be a top ranking petrolhead and may look to motorists to fund his efforts. As drivers it seems we just can’t catch a break.
Geoff Maxted (And don’t even get me started on car and breakdown insurance!).