Sunday, 14 December 2008

Santa's Sleigh Slain By Parking Ticket

There was a cracking article in Saturday's Sun about Santa getting a parking ticket. It seems that the festive fellows at NCP Services, who are contracted to enforce parking regulations in and around Nottingham's Tudor Square, slapped a parking ticket on a car belonging to Richard Walters from West Bridgford Round Table.

According to Mr Walters, he pulled over for a mere three minutes while he unhooked Santa's sleigh from the back of his car and pushed it onto the pavement. When he returned to the car, with a view, he claims, to taking it off to the car park having unhooked it's festive load, he was confronted by a parking attendant who was busily earning their little bit of corn by writing out a ticket for good old Rudolph Richard Walters. The Swine! BOO! HISSSS! Shame nobody got into the festive spirit by calling out "HE'S BEHIND YOU!" but we all know how quick of quill those dratted parking enforcers are, eh?

Of course, NCP Services have a slightly different perspective. THEY say the car MUST have been parked for more than the three minutes that Mr Walters proclaims because it takes at least five minutes to write out the ticket. They go on to say that the car was parked on some of those zigzag white lines just by a pedestrian corssing, where nobody is supposed to park, ever, ever, ever, was completely unattended and didn't have a sleigh next to it.

Hmmm, interesting. Parking enforcers are, of course, the scum of the Earth, lurking in shadows to mug perfectly innocent - or at least hassled, harried, hard-working, busy people who are just trying to get through the day - of an outrageous sum for daring to think about slowing down without paying the local tithe. They're over zealous, unpopular (for obvous reasons) and don't have anything else going for them, either, as far as I can tell. Certainly I wouldn't necessarily trust or believe one, particularly where bad publicity might cast them in a poor light.

BUT, and it's a BIG but, IF it's true that the car in question was parked illegally in a very dangerous position, I can't quite see what the problem is. Just because this car was used to convey a representation of a fictitious sleigh to a shopping precinct does not mean that its owner is entitled to break the law and / or put pedestrians at risk, no matter how minor that risk may be.

I've had two unpleasantly close encounters with my local (not Nottingham) Round Table in the past week, and this incident doesn't doesn't do anything to improve my rapidly dimming view of them. In my case, I was not at all pleased to find the self-righteous buggers blocking quiet side roads with their car-drawn sleigh. If I'm out and about on these cold winter evenings, instead of lurking in front of the telly with Mrs S, a smoke and a cold beer, it's because of necessity. I need to be somewhere, probably fairly urgently, and I do not want to find my route blocked by a bloody great sleigh mounted on the back a trailer being towed by a clapped out Volvo. Nor do I appreciate "HO! HO! HO!" as a response to my frantic gesticulations and demands to "Get off the bloody road, you daft old bugger!"

To cap it all, I really, REALLY, don't want to find the road and pavements infested by six - SIX, I COUNTED THEM - officious-looking individuals wearing high-visibility vests and carrying buckets with, I assume, a view to soliciting donations. What do they say to people? "Cough up, or we'll block your road some more?" Yes, I know the Round Table does some very good work, and, if I hadn't been in a tearing hurry (TWICE) I would probably have appreciated their efforts a little more - the sleigh + Santa was actually rather fetchingly done.

But I was, and I didn't, and if I find my way blocked by them again I will be even more pissed off with them than I already am. Just because they're doing "good works" doesn't mean they can inconvenience everyone else, or park illegally or dangerously, for that matter, either. It is not a licence to be a prat, or arrogantly disregard those of us who have different priorities, although I'm inclided to think the Round Table here, and possibly in Nottingham, may not see it that way. If they remember that, and behave accourdingly, they may find people are rather more willing to support them. If they don't, I fear their cause may find itself rather underwhelmingly endowed until they come to their senses.

Billy Seggars.

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