Lewes Forum thread

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Evil enforcers of Lewes Parking Scheme

On 3 Apr 2012 at 3:46pm Angry Lewes Worker wrote:
I'm so angry.

I pay to park in a Lewes car park almost every day as I live in a village outside the town and run a business in the town. I've been doing this for a year so have contributed a fair amount to ESCC coffers (or Atkins maybe). Yesterday my ticket slipped between the dashboard and the windscreen and I got given a parking charge Notice (PCN). I to wrote them supplying a photo of my ticket along with explanation of what had happened.

A guy called Mr S Cargill wrote back from Parking Notice Processing at ESCC saying that I still had to pay a fine of £25.


This is what I wrote back to them:

"This is unbelievable.. I park in Lewes all day almost every week day and always pay the charge and display my ticket. Just once my ticket slips off the dashboard without me noticing. The very next day I tell you and show evidence that I bought the ticket and you still want to fine me £25? No wonder the Lewes parking scheme has such an awful reputation. The unforgiving, jackbooted way it is enforced lends the town an air of unfriendliness and seems almost wilfully aimed at keeping visitors out. Why is it that East Sussex County Council see fit to impose such an evil little scheme on the pleasant country town of Lewes? It's hard to believe that the Tories at ESCC don't have something personal against the liberal free town of Lewes.
I refuse to hand over any more money. It is enough to pay for parking every day without you lot trying to take more money from me for a tiny mistake."

That made me feel a little better.
On 3 Apr 2012 at 3:51pm Merlin Milner wrote:
Well done. Continue to contest it. Let me know if you need any help.
On 3 Apr 2012 at 4:06pm Parking ticket revoked wrote:
Same thing happened to me. Contested it several times and they said no, even though I had the ticket to prove I'd paid. All the logic and reasoning fell on deaf ears. They said I'd have to take it to the next level, the one where, if you lose, you pay£50. I was so sure I was right that I did this, at which they (different people I assume) immediately waived the fine. Worth doing.
On 3 Apr 2012 at 4:43pm Geoffrey Frost wrote:
You're obliged to display your ticket, it's part of the conditions of parking in their car parks. Failing to do so results in a fine.
How often you use the car park bares no relevance on this, and the ticket could easily have been obtained from someone else. Hence why it must be displayed in your car at the time of inspection.
It sounds as if you have made an error and are angry at other people for your mistake.
On 3 Apr 2012 at 4:52pm Angry Lewes Worker wrote:
It's the entirely unforgiving nature of the bureaucrats that gets me. A understandable, tiny and forgiveable error on an otherwise unblemished daily record. Yes I am angry.
On 3 Apr 2012 at 5:06pm Local wrote:
This sort of bullying by parking companies really annoys me too. So much so, that I am willing to forego my annual holiday budget of £1000 if, at any time, my appeal against this sort of genuine mistake doesn't get thrown out before going to court. I believe the chances of having to go that far are very very slim because, as I say, they are simply bullies trying it on.
On 3 Apr 2012 at 5:24pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
Since they stopped issuing tickets with sticky labels, ensuring your ticket is displayed can be tricky. The slightest breeze when you get out, or even slamming the door too hard, can dislodge them.
On 3 Apr 2012 at 6:21pm Woody wrote:
Are these tickets legally enforceable? I got one because one wheel was more than 50% over the parking bay line. I complained and was sent a photo of my offence by the b*****ds to prove it. I paid but perhaps I shouldn't have.
Technically I suppose I was in the wrong, but there should be some leaway. It's the blatant offenders that should get the fines - more than 15 minutes over your time or parking on double yellows, causing an obstruction, that sort of thing.
On 3 Apr 2012 at 9:51pm expat two wrote:
You all seem to labouring under the misguided impression that the parking scheme is there to make access easier, roads safer, traffic flow better or something.
Its not, its a business enterprise.
On 3 Apr 2012 at 10:17pm Woody wrote:
Expat - agree totally, I just don't understand how they are allowed to get away with such behaviour. No wonder people were blowing up the ticket machines with rookies - only in Lewes!
On 3 Apr 2012 at 11:25pm Fairmeadow wrote:
The problem is East Sussex County Council's brilliant negotiating skills, which resulted in a contarct with NCP that means they have to make about £500,000 p.a. in parking fines to break even.
First you have to appeal to the parking office (NCP). They are not on the side of goodness and light, and will turn your appeal down if you have made the most minor technical violation.
Second you appeal to east Sussex County Council. They are also not on the side of goodness and light, and their functionaries will turn you down if you have made the most minor technical violation.
It seems almost as if they were in cahoots with each other.
Only then, when you have made both these appeals, and been threatened with the fine doubling and doubling again, can you appeal to the independent adjudicator, who will be guided by common sense. Only if you do this (and have some sort of case, as you have) will East Sussex suddenly back off, because they know they would lose.
Do you think that the people who run East Sussex County Council remember that THEY WORK FOR YOU?
Your next chance to vote against them is May 2013. Unfortunately ESCC is run by the Tories, and they do not expect to get many seats in Lewes. Astonishingly, the system is run much more sensibly in Eastbourne, where there are some Tory seats.
I am not sure quite what conclusion you should draw from this. Press for Lewes to leave East Sussex and join Brighton & Hove? Weren't the new national constituency boundaries proposing something rather like that?
On 4 Apr 2012 at 7:38am Angry wrote:
Now if LTC really wanted to prove their worth and recover some credibility they should should get on the case (or perhaps they already have and failed).
On 4 Apr 2012 at 8:12am Merlin Milner wrote:
Believe me we have been on the case since it started and continue to be. As mentioned earlier this is ESCC's baby. Just look at how Eastbourne was steam rollered into their scheme. There are due some welcome modifications which are a result of pressure from ourseleves, residents, traders and other bodies.
On 4 Apr 2012 at 10:13am Zebedee wrote:
As I understand it Lewes is deliberately starved of funds by the Tory controlled East Sussex County Council purely because the town does not return a Tory. I have been told this by a County Councillor.
On 4 Apr 2012 at 10:37am the old mayor wrote:
Close your business down and move out of Lewes, once Lewes becomes a ghost town and everyone's gone to the free shopping malls, they may reconsider the parking scheme but hell may have frozen over by then !!
On 4 Apr 2012 at 10:42am Richard C wrote:
I hate to come over all woolly liberal but I think there are a few issues to this that are easily missed by the "Everyone working for NCP are evil" mantra; Firstly, the rules state that you have to display a ticket - not just buy one. Therefore ensuring that it hasn't blown onto the floor when closing your car door would seem a logical habit to get into (I know - I've had the same experience with same resulting fine). TIP: Licking the back of the ticket before placing it on your dashboard stops it blowing away! Secondly, while the scheme is certainly flawed, processing appeals costs NCP and as a result, US money (time, salaries etc) and therefore avoiding the need for them by sticking to the rules would again seem logical (or at least don't appeal against a fine if you don't). Getting a ticket for parking a few millimetres over the line does seem unjust, but there needs to be limitations. How miffed would you be if the last space in the car park was unusable because some selfish sod had effectively taken up 2 spaces (for the price of one)? Finally, do bear in mind that the actual enforcement officers are more than likely being paid peanuts for doing a pretty crappy job ("Get another job then"? There aren't any). Only 2 days ago I parked outside the YMCA while collecting my kids. I didn't buy a ticket even though I knew I should, and returned after the warden had issued the ticket AND taken the photo of it sitting on my windscreen. On seeing me return to the car with said kids looking simultaneously harassed, infuriated and embarrassed, he removed the ticket and deleted the evidence from his camera. Evil? I could have kissed him. As I say the scheme is flawed in many ways and urgently needs reviewing. However the argument that it's only there to generate cash for the council is equally flawed; I don't doubt that it is, but that's because the council provide essential services for you, me, the sick and vulnerable, and they're utterly broke.
On 4 Apr 2012 at 10:46am Independent Thinker wrote:
Merlin, when do the changes come into effect? Some of them, if they go ahead as proposed, will at least make the scheme more bearable.
On 4 Apr 2012 at 1:48pm Bling Mare wrote:
Thoroughly agree with ACT - NCP should ensure that their tickets can be displayed (quite negligent of them not to do so).
On 4 Apr 2012 at 5:04pm Ed Can Do wrote:
Whilst I agree with Richard C that most of the wardens themselves are pretty reasonable and just doing their jobs, at least one of them is a cheating little twerp. I parked outside the football club to pick up some paperwork once, ran in and out in literally three minutes only to see a warden walking away from my car having left a ticket behind, merrily ignoring me calling after him. The rules give you five minutes grace to get change and the guidelines on tickets say they have to wait five minutes before issuing a fine to an unticketed car.

I wrote to the council to contest it and they grudgingly admitted I was right and the ticket had been incorrectly issued and cancelled the fine but had the cheek to add to the letter that they were letting me off just this once and I was prohibited from appealing any more tickets. It's this kind of bullying and frankly, plain wrong corresspondence that gets people so annoyed about the scheme.

Also, loads of bays in Lewes are still marked out wrong meaning you can rightly appeal any ticket issued in them. One long bay should have a single dashed line denoting each end. A bay divided into individual spaces should have a double dashed line at each end. If this is not done properly then park there for free and appeal every ticket. If the bay is illegally drawn then all fines are invalid. If memory serves Sun Street is marked wrong and I've seen lots of others around the town. Someone should probably make a list or something...
On 4 Apr 2012 at 5:30pm Warden wrote:
Park legally, buy your ticket and display it properly. Not difficult is it? Stop whingeing and just do it.
On 4 Apr 2012 at 6:33pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
Interesting bit of technical info ECD!
There are loads of ways it's easy to park illegally by mistake. There are places where the nearest and most obvious machine is not the right one for the bay you're in, permit only bays are often misleadingly marked (it would be great if they were done in a different colour so you could see at a glance which is which, rather than have to stroll the streets looking for a tiny sign fixed high up on a wall) and unforeseen events make it easy to overstay inadvertently - a particular problem when going to the doctor and finding they're running an hour late.
I'd also like to know how much they make by not having machines that give change. When all the different areas have such different charges, having the right combination of change is a nightmare.
On 4 Apr 2012 at 9:29pm Angry wrote:
It really isn't difficult to obey the rules. The trouble is far too many people think they don't apply to them. I have parked in Lewes for years without incident. On one occasion when a machine failed to dispense a ticket I left a note on the dash and went and found the nearest warden and reported it. Not a problem.
On 4 Apr 2012 at 11:13pm Local wrote:
Come on, FFS!
Keeping a tin of change in the car is not a nightmare in anyone's language.
Popping back out to the car if the GP is running an hour late is not difficult - you don't lose your place in the queue, and it's very very rare for such a delay to spring up within a few minutes.
Some people are colour-blind, so different colour sins are not particularly inclusive.
One could say that the ability to comply with reasonable parking rules is a valid way of determining which people are fit and proper drivers?
Over-zealous parking enforcement and bullying responses to appeals is altogether a different matter, and the original crux of this thread.
On 5 Apr 2012 at 9:00am I don't live in lewes... wrote:
Speaking as a born and bred Lewesian who voted with their feet and moved away... On the plus side, in most towns you don't feel as if you are being intimidated by the extraordinary large number of parking wardens that are always on the prowl in Lewes.
I use to enjoy visiting the Saturday Farmers Market but gave that up as a bad job some months ago.
There are other Farmers Markets though and Lewes isn't the only town.
As Merlin Miller says it's the County Council's baby. I'm sure the town council would like to make the scheme more user friendly but as we all know town councils have no teeth and serve little purpose.
The intitial public consulation regarding the parking scheme was little more than lip service, our local leaders nodding sympathetically before going their own sweet way and telling people what they were going to get.
That aspect hasn't changed.
It's pointless voting for local councillors(town or county) who for whatever the reason are incapable of representing local peoples views and acting upon them.
They clearly think all's well with the scheme.

On 5 Apr 2012 at 3:44pm Fairmeadow wrote:
Actually the Lewes District Retail Study, due to be published later this month, is likely to demonstrate just how damaging the parking regime is to most Lewes shops. Same must apply to pubs & restaurants and anything dependent on tourism (you always remember where you got a ticket). But do the county council care?
On 5 Apr 2012 at 4:01pm Angry wrote:
Can't quite see that - whenever I have been in town there are not that many empty spaces.
On 5 Apr 2012 at 4:40pm Southover Queen wrote:
If the shops you wish to visit are close to one of the car parks in town, then it's fine: you can park in (say) the Friars Walk car park for a couple of hours and browse happily in the Cliffe, the precinct and the lower part of School Hill.

If however the shops you wish to visit are up on the main High Street then it's a different story. If you can find a space on the street it will cost you a fortune (supposedly to encourage short visits), and the two car parks are either impossible to find unless you're a real local or always full. I'm absolutely certain it discourages casual shoppers at the top of town, and must be why most of the outlets now appear to be estate agents or charity shops.

I don't disagree that we need controlled parking in this town, but do we really need a scheme which would not look out of place in Westminster? As someone else pointed out above, they need to generate a lot of revenue to pay all those blue meanies and that means ticketing everyone who transgresses even slightly.

By the way I heartily agree about the bl00dy tickets getting blown around and similarly miss the sticky backed ones. There must be a better way of doing this!
On 5 Apr 2012 at 9:16pm Angry wrote:
I must be missing the point. If there are no parking spaces to be found (despite the alleged high prices) and the car parks are always full then how can the parking scheme be blamed for damaging the shops? And by the way, why were we given legs?
On 6 Apr 2012 at 10:48am Southover Queen wrote:
The problem is at the top end of town, not at the bottom where parking is generally fine and reasonably priced.

The spaces on the upper high street itself are very expensive and always occupied, but not by browsing shoppers. It's people who've come on a specific mission and will park there for half an hour while that mission is achieved - so visit post office/estate agent/pick up order.

If you've come for a shopping outing to Lewes and you've parked in Friars Walk or the car park behind the brewery you're probably not going to slog up School Hill just on the off chance. If you're driving through and you see something that makes you want to stop, you'll be put off because you can't find anywhere to park and if you do it's ruinously expensive. It's not really the parking scheme's fault - a small mediaeval town's high street is never going to accommodate the number of vehicles we use in the 21st century. I don't have a solution either, but I'm pretty sure that's the problem.

On 8 Apr 2012 at 10:54am The Twister wrote:
Surely you must have realised by now that all parking charges/schemes are moneymaking enterprises designed to fleece the poor motorist of as much money as they can be persuaded to part with. This is all justified by a half-baked attempt to indoctrinate us with the idea that it is all for our own good and that all towns and cities would grind to a halt with the onslaught of selfish, bloody minded motorists that would descend upon them without those lovely, uniformed quasi-military jobsworths to protect us.
On 10 Apr 2012 at 6:56pm Earl of Lewes wrote:
These threads always invited a few priggish comments along the lines of "Well, I've never had a parking ticket..." In the real world, tickets do get blown off the dashboard and if you're struggling with getting children out of the car, you don't always notice. The tickets clearly say when they were issued and how long they're valid for, so a little common sense and humanity on the part of NCP and ESCC would be appreciated.
One day a friend came to visit and I gave him a parking voucher. Distracted by his autistic son, he started to scratch out the wrong date, but I stopped him before any damage was done. Nevertheless, he got a ticket, even though he couldn't possibly have used the voucher on any other day, as the wrong date had a barely perceptible scratch. He appealed. You can guess what the outcome was.
Like speed cameras, this is a form of easy revenue generation. I'm not a militant motorist and walk or use the train whenever I can, but until public transport offers a genuine alternative, motorists should be given a break.
On 11 Apr 2012 at 6:39am TimDog wrote:
Last summer I got back to my car a a warden was writing out the offence. I picked my ticket off the floor of my car and the warden stopped writing the ticket, said 'you might find this useful" and handed me a small sticky clear plastic wallet to stick in the corner of the windscreen. Very pleasant
On 17 Apr 2012 at 8:29pm Mike Hunt wrote:
The whole of the CPZ in Lewes is unenforcable due to the fact that a an old market town cannot put up the correct signs, paint the correct lines and put up correct time plates, because most of it is in a conservation area. So they have thrown it all together and hope that the majority of people get frightened into paying. I have recieved about five parking tickets in the years since it was introduced in September 2004. Each time I have invoiced ESCC £25 for the time I have spent apealling them. Each time I have received a cheque from them. All are hanging in my downstairs loo. So before any of you say that I should obey the law, the CPZ is the de-criminalisation of parking, hence parking wherever one wishes to is no longer illeagal, if socially wrong. ESCC opted in to the CPZ just to make money. If it costs them, so be it. You should all appeal your tickets and the CPZ would fail.

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