Wednesday, 15 October 2008

In For A Penny, In For A Pounding

I love this story from the Telegraph about a church choir mistress who paid a hospital parking fine in pennies.

It seems that Susan Catcheside, 74, from Longney, Gloucester, had been visiting an 83-year-old friend at Gloucester Royal Hospital, when she copped for a £70 parking fine. Not being over well herself, the good lady apparently didn't notice that the parking space she occupied was reserved for permit holders, and fell victim to the local Gloucester City Council's cash acquirement scheme.

Her appeal against the Council's insatiable demand for cash was unsuccessful, and her only option was to pay up. Even though the Council pledges to only extort a mere £35 if victims pay up within two weeks, Mrs Catcheside was - quite rightly, in my opinion - enraged at the inhuman "Hitler-ite" actions of officials involved in this fiasco.

She determined to make the buggers work for their ill-gotten gains, and paid £35 fine in pennies. Well done, Mrs C! The Telegraph says she extracted 35 bags of pennies from her bank, presumably containing one hundred pennies each, which she took to the Council offices in a sweet jar in a wheelbarrow. Again, an excellent plan, in my opinion, but, in her position, I'd have made sure that some bags contained less than one hundred pennies, while others contained more - the Council would have received exactly the amount they had set out to deprive her of, but they'd have had to bloody well count it all, every penny.

The whole business of fining individuals who park at hospitals - and, come to that, imposing parking fees at hospitals at all - is nothing more than a scam, a means of parting the sick and their worried relatives from their cash at a time when they are most vulnerable. It is disgraceful, inhuman, unacceptable and I very strongly urge all who find themselves on the wrong end of such treatment to use any means at their disposal to make the experience difficult for the officialdom that preys so unjustly upon them.

As for Gloucester City Council, a spokesman said, "If she wants to pay in pennies that's fine. Cash payments are accepted." Yes, I just bet pennies are fine. In fact, right now, I should imagine that just about anything, including a reasonably believable IOU will do nicely. You see, accodring to this article in the Telegraph, they're a bit financially embarassed at the moment, to the tune of around £2 million invested in Icelandic banks. You know, those banks that have recently collapsed? The ones that it might have been just a little bit silly to trust with public money?

True, Gloucester City Council is hardly alone in such finacial stupidity, and its exposure to this kind of massive risk isn't on quite the same scale as that of other councils, but it was still a bloody stupid thing to do with two million quid, and you can see why they'd be out to, metaphorically, mug old ladies in hospital car parks with a view to making up the shortfall. Shame on them.

Billy Seggars.

No comments: