I am going to start my piece this time around with a personal whinge. My excuse is that I don’t want others to fall into the same trap, writes Mayor of Peterborough Cllr Chris Ash.
It’s all about parking.
The other day I parked up to go into a place to make an enquiry. I have been there before with no problem. I did see a notice stating the area was for visitor and customer parking, so obviously no problem.
Having sorted what I needed to know, I drove away. A week on, a claim for 60 quid came my way - I was wrongly parked.
At first I could not work out where I’d gone wrong, everybody knows I would not dream of parking wrongly (honest guv). So I started to check things out to see what I should have done, and clearly didn’t.
CCTV records your entry, and hopefully departure, and what you are supposed to do is hunt out a machine, enter the registration number correctly, no mistakes, otherwise it won’t match the photo - so it will cost you!
Of course, if you have not made yourself fully aware of the procedure, you won’t know and won’t ask where the machines are hidden.
I checked with council officers and they say that the Government keep private parking outside of council control.
So, as I see it, there are no independent regulatory controls. The system is new to me, and no doubt many others.
It’s very different to what we have been used to. It seems the companies will give you no leeway if you make a genuine mistake.
The council did go on to give me a couple of interesting links. The first is https://www.parkingcowboys.co.uk/smart-parking/. Checking this one, I saw that Smart Parking have been in the news in Perth where MP Murdo Fraser has been campaigning against unfair tickets.
They may have now cleaned up their act, so it is not for me to say they are acting illegally today.
Hopefully, if you contact Mr Fraser he will kindly pass your comments on.
The other site is at https://www.britishparking.co.uk/AOS. They are an association which monitors these companies.
Perhaps making parking an issue might help people return to the city centre and do more trade there.
Shopping is not a my favourite pastime, so if I know exactly want I want and can find it, I will use the internet.
The downside is waiting at home for a delivery or going to a collection point, for reliability I still find Royal Mail best.
They knock loudly and don’t run away too soon.
I still reckon the high street has something to offer. I can look at goods and ask questions before I buy. I do think, though, stores need to be more customer focused.
The customer needs to feel that they are getting a service you simply can’t get with internet shopping .
A friend sent a link via Facebook regarding our number one spot as a poor place to be. In my book, Peterborough has a lot offer. The article gave us nothing more than wildly offensive comments, mainly about the people, hardly constructive, or helpful. Okay, there are a few faults, but what large urban area doesn’t have its problems?
On the whole I don’t think things are as bad as painted.
We do, though, rely on developers and our planners to ensure that growth can be sustained, and the facilities on offer match people’s needs and activities to give a place purpose.
I am reminded of a tale of two hikers travelling separately on the same country road between towns. Each stops to talk to a farmer, and they independently ask what the people are like in the town down the road.
The farmer first asks what they thought of the people in the other town.
‘A pretty miserable, unhelpful and unpleasant lot’ is the reply from the first hiker. ‘Well,’ says the farmer, ‘you will without doubt find folk in the next town no different’.
A little later the second hiker comes along and says he found most people to be ‘friendly, helpful and fair-minded’.
‘Well,’ says the farmer, ‘you will have no worries there, you will find the people in the next town just the same.’.
Now as mayor I found people to be a far cry from the picture painted in that article on poor towns. It is real privilege to see the good stuff people do for the city.
While we often hear about the bad things, there is a lot of good stuff around – please celebrate and share all the good things the city has on offer.