The media have named this time of the year the “silly season”. The Westminster political types have jetted away on their holidays, leaving newspapers with column inches to fill and broadcasters facing empty slots. The Olympics has spewed out stories over the last two weeks but now, even sporting stories are just about stretched to their limit.
Mind you, Heather Wheeler MP for South Derbyshire has declared that the British Empire had won the Olympics. That’s true silly season stuff. Congratulations also to Edinburgh for coming up with a story about a knighted penguin, which is also a brigadier. And continuing the Scottish theme, the Telegraph reports that playing the bagpipes can be fatal. The article doesn’t mention that listening to bagpipes can be fatal too.
Shropshire Council, not to be outdone, has come up with a true silly season story just for us here in Ludlow. It is issuing parking tickets and then inviting people to challenge them.
We have got rather angry here in Ludlow over a punitive crackdown on evening parking. Requests to resolve parking issues around Quality Square have been scaled up to a weekly crackdown on evening parking across the entire town centre. That’s the wrong approach. What the council should have done first is ensure than signs and lines are clear. An information campaign could have followed. After that, it would have been appropriate to clampdown on dangerous and abusive parking.
Shropshire Council has accepted that yellow lines in the town centre area are not sufficiently well marked. In a statement issued last Friday evening, the council all but invites motorists to challenge Parking Charge Notices [PCNs] issued in central Ludlow.
“Any motorist who has received a PCN but feels that the restriction was unclear due to the condition of the lines, is able challenge the PCN.”
Why is the council issuing tickets when it knows that restrictions are unclear because of the condition of the lines? This is tantamount to an admission that it is enforcing in areas where it is on dodgy legal ground.
Barely visible yellow lines at entrance to Quality Square.
This is true silly season stuff – ordering parking enforcement officers to slap notices of fines on vehicles while the council accepts that signage and lines are inadequate.
We councillors have been asking for these lines to be repainted for the last two years. But, although the council has asked its road contractor Ringway to repaint the lines, nothing has been done.
I often wonder what conversations go on between Shropshire Council’s highways managers and Ringway. I imagine they must be like this:
Council: “I say, would you awfully mind painting yellow lines around Ludlow town centre?”
Ringway: “Of course. We’ll get around to it in the next few years or so.”
Council: “Thank you so much. We are really grateful that you can find the time.”
I do not understand why Shropshire Council has so little control over what Ringway does and when it does it. This is public money and the council should have some influence over how and when it should be spent. Instead, lines are not being painted and residents and visitors are being fined for being confused.
This ugly clampdown on parking in Ludlow shows that Shropshire Council is failing to work in a joined up way. If it had repainted lines in Ludlow town centre a timely manner, there would be less obstruction, fewer penalty notices, and everyone would be happier.
That’s common sense. But, hey. It’s the silly season. So silliness will prevail, no matter how much damage it does to the reputation of Ludlow as a tourist town or Shropshire Council as a competent public body.