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Saturday, June 25, 2005

 

Resident’s evil

Sheltering under an archway from the heavy rain yesterday (First day back on duty – wouldn’t you just know it?), I ran into PC49 on one of his rare foot patrols. I had seen the downpour coming and ducked under cover before it hit, while he hadn’t been quite quick enough.
“Hello. Enjoying the weather?”
“Not a lot.” Was his rejoinder as he shook some water off his kit.
While the downpour increased and the son et lumière thunderstorm went into high gear, we stepped back out of range of the torrent and nattered about this and that. Not unnaturally, we fell to talking about parking problems and obstruction. There’s a bit of a dichotomy here. I can book people for parking illegally only on yellow lines and red routes, while he can book for obstruction and a whole raft of things my employers won’t take on, like out of date / forged tax discs etc. So there’s a fair bit of common ground.

“Here, you know that residents parking scheme up on Quick Street you lot have had trouble with?” He said. I nodded. Quick Street implemented a new residents permit scheme last year, which has caused all sorts of aggro.
“Riiight.” Says I cautiously. “The new visitors permit scheme. I know. That’s on my beat today.”
“We’ve had a lot of calls from there recently. Chap three nights ago had his friend’s car trashed by one of his neighbours. They’d bought several of those new temporary permits so that their friends could stay overnight for a boozy barbeque. Unfortunately, this meant a number of the other residents couldn’t park in their own street.” He told me with more than a hint of relish in his voice. Did I tell you old 49 has an evil streak? “His friend goes out to find his next door but two neighbour and a couple of others knocking hell out of all the cars in the street with the new visitors permits on. There were broken glass and windscreens all over the place. One almighty punch up ensues and we had to go in mob handed. Worse than closing time in the High Street.”
“Have you passed this back to our office?” I asked. “They set up the scheme after all.”
“Oh yeah. First thing your office said was that it was a small group of residents who had campaigned for the scheme in the first place. Management went ballistic. Blamed your lot for the mini-riot.”

I creased up. I couldn’t help it. There are some times when you can’t help laughing at the stupidity of people and this was one of them. People are so damned precious about their vehicles, and any perceived threat leads to a major casus belli, which can blight an area, sometimes for years.

For the reasons behind my mirth, a little history lesson is in order. A year ago a couple (literally, two.) of the residents got a bee in their bonnet about two or three other people in that street ‘abusing’ the yearly visitors permits by regularly lending them to mates and workmen who worked nearby during the day. They campaigned mightily to get the old visitors permit scheme revoked and the replacement scheme activated. In the process, we got our ears badly bent on a daily basis by said campaigners. Originally, each household could only buy one yearly ‘visitor’ permit per household. Now they can buy as many ‘daily’ permits as they like at a time. So there’s not much we can do if one household has a party and five or six cars need parking nearby (Dearie me. Perish the thought that some people would have to walk more than fifty yards.). This has led to a lot of friction between neighbours, meaning what was once a friendly little street to patrol has, at times, become almost a no-go area.

Do you know what amazes me most of all? Most of this stuff never gets a mention in the local papers. Those guys must be fast asleep.

As far as I am concerned, the current standing orders for Quick Street are to leg it if more than two people challenge you, as threats of serious violence to Parking Enforcement Officers have been made in that area. Therefore, I did the sensible thing and gave Quick Street a miss.

There goes the neighbourhood.

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Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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