Rant: Parking permits
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