The motorists' lot

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Sir,

Q.: When is a parking place not a parking place? A.: When it is in Richmond, Yorks.

Just before Easter I had occasion to go into Richmond, and as it was busy I had some difficulty in finding somewhere to park my car, but I eventually spied a white “P” on a blue square, which any motorist, I am sure, would interpret as a parking place. There was one car already there and I parked mine behind it, the back end of my car being on a line with the sign. There was a white line the appropriate distance from the kerb, but there were no yellow lines or any visible indication that there was any restriction. I was away barely eight minutes and on returning to the car a sour-faced female in warden’s clothing bore down on me from out of the shadows waving a piece of paper which she thrust in my hand demanding £2. When I asked what it was for I was told I was on a taxi rank. After some argument, when I pointed out the “P” sign, I asked where it said it was a taxi rank. She replied that it was under my car and then walked away. When I pulled my car away there was, of course, no such sign, but there was under the car in front, which presumably was a taxi, although it looked like any other car.

As I did not think there was any question that I was in the right I refused to pay the £2, and eventually received a summons. The AA laid on a solicitor for the defence, but it soon became evident that the police were determined to obtain a conviction at any cost. I was also warned beforehand that the magistrates at this court always sided with the police—how true! The police had their witnesses well primed, and both the traffic warden and a police constable swore that underneath my car it said taxis only. This was patently untrue, but the magistrates believed them. (I had since been back to check this.) The result was a £5 fine, plus 18s. 6d. costs.

My advice to motorists visiting the North Riding is to avoid Richmond like the plague, as goodness knows what hidden traps are awaiting you, but if you have to go look out for a sour-faced female traffic warden, as Richmond obviously does not welcome motorists. In my own case surely a friendly warning would have kept everybody happy. Since this affair the delineation of the taxi rank has been more clearly defined.

W. A. – [Name and address supplied.—Ed.]

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