Wardens have New Year Field Day

New Years Day or not, Traffic Wardens have had a blitz, out from 8am on the morning after the night before, they ticketed scores of vehicles, on Market Street, Market Place, and Eccles Road.

Allegedly, a similar exercise was carried out in New Mills and elsewhere in High Peak.  In Chapel, many people who had gone out to celebrate New Year, and one might think wisely had chosen not to drive home, came back on New Years Day to find themselves penalised for “Staying Safe”. In other cases, local residents used to parking near their homes and assuming that New Years Day was “Sunday Hours” have likewise found themselves with a hefty holiday bill.

The Traffic Warden system in Chapel has long been a cause of deep resentment; these “Enforcement Officers” are no longer the same thing as the original Wardens, who in 1960 started out as a “subsidiary” of the Metropolitan Police. Their purpose was as much to ease traffic congestion (so we were assured) as it was to raise revenue, though even then, the first ticket was issued to a Doctor attending a heart patient!

In the 1990’s, the system changed to allow local Councils to manage parking, the old Police Wardens in the black and yellow uniforms gradually phased out.

The system foisted on Chapel, has little to do with traffic management, control of bad driving or even prevention of dangerously parked vehicles, it is simply a cynical money raising system, and local citizens are left wondering who benefits from these enforcement operators. They are no longer clothed distinctively, having resorted to virtual camouflage gear and unmarked vehicles. High Peak employs “sub-contracted” parking enforcement organisations who, no doubt, make a pretty penny out of local residents, businesses and tourists to very little benefit of local communities. 

You might assume that they at least prevent vehicles causing obstructions, parking illegally etc. but you would be very wrong, their brief is purely to issue tickets to those motorists who outstay the allowed period in approved parking spaces, parking on yellow lines – they don’t care, blocking a driveway, not their issue!

We see no end of ridiculous incidents, Funeral and Wedding Parties finding their vehicles ticketed, Electricians and Builders unable to get equipment to where they are working, and on the other side healthy enough individuals “swinging the lead” to get Blue Parking Badges.

For a long period, Chapel had parking regulations, that were not “policed” and by and large they worked well, sure the odd person overstayed in a space on occasion, but most of us could find a space, albeit sometimes you had to “drive around the block”.  Meanwhile, Buxton, Glossop etc. had increasing use of chargeable on-street parking, the Borough Council have long wished to charge for parking in Chapel, but having found stiff opposition to that from both residents and business seem to have settled for whatever they can get from “leasing out” parking enforcement and don’t seem to much care what effect this has on the town(s)

Up and down the UK, we are hearing that our Villages, Towns and City centres are dying, Shops are becoming uneconomic, and customers scarce. Personally I balk at going to Buxton as I feel that the parking costs are akin to renting properties rather than a car space, whilst I nip to the bank. The banks are closing because I/we no longer visit them (or that’s their story), and the shops we used to pop-in at the same time are vanishing.

In the High Peak, tourists are a significant matter, they are finding our towns less attractive, no shops, expensive parking and if the service in the Cafe isn’t damn quick you return to your car to find a Penalty Ticket. “Oh  well next time, why not stay at home watch Netflix, order from Just Eat and get your souvenirs from Amazon! and save the £60”?

An interesting thought HPBC, drop the parking enforcement, leave the “restrictions” as they are and see if things improve. I’m sure you would find that would be an incentive to use the remaining shops and services we have, and enrich the lives of residents, reflecting in time, an improvement in property values and desirability of living and working in our community.

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