Rant: Park­ing per­mits

The Oldie - - CONTENTS -

Ap­ply­ing for a park­ing per­mit Tor­ture is alive and de­press­ingly well in Bri­tain for those of us who live in cities where a park­ing per­mit has be­come an ab­surdly prized pos­ses­sion.

I re­newed my per­mit in De­cem­ber (£119) with Ham­mer­smith and Ful­ham Coun­cil.

In May, I ac­quired a new (well, sec­ond-hand) car, which was reg­is­tered to my

ad­dress in the Scot­tish Bor­ders. Fair enough; I would reg­is­ter it to my Lon­don ad­dress.

But it did dawn on me that if some­one lives in two places re­quir­ing park­ing per­mits, then they would end up get­ting a lot of tick­ets at one of them if you can’t reg­is­ter a car to two dif­fer­ent ad­dresses.

I es­tab­lished this dur­ing a visit to the Ham­mer­smith and Ful­ham Coun­cil of­fices – a shocker of a build­ing – where I joined the queue on the fire-es­cape steps (es­ca­la­tor out of or­der), wait­ing for the mo­ment at 9am when heavy, cell-like doors banged open and we all rushed in.

I was sec­ond in line. Keep a cool head. Be po­lite. Show re­spect to the man sit­ting on

the other side of the thick glass, where a sign warned that CCTV was in op­er­a­tion. He will try to catch you out but don’t rise to it.

‘We have no record that you paid £119 for your park­ing per­mit in De­cem­ber,’ he said. ‘But I did.’ ‘You will have to prove it with a bank state­ment.’

And on it went. To the left of me, an el­derly lady was shout­ing at her man be­cause the two-way speaker sys­tem was bro­ken.

To the right, a student was be­ing told that some­thing was wrong with the gas bill he had pro­duced to prove that he was rent­ing in the bor­ough.

‘It’s enough to make you cry,’ said a sharp-suited man be­hind me.

‘Or make you live in a field,’ opined an­other.

I re­turned a week later with the bank state­ment show­ing that I had paid the £119 – but they still had no record of it and I had to wait 45 min­utes un­til even­tu­ally some dark re­cess of com­put­er­land re­gur­gi­tated the wretched thing. MARK PALMER

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