I went to pick up a Chinese take-out last night and got chatting to the lady who worked there. This was in Stockbridge which isn't my neck of the woods but this lady had plenty of beef to offload (and I'm not just talking about the shredded chilli sauce variety!)
I was genuinely shocked to hear her accounts of the traffic wardens behaviour in that area over the past year. And given I had a particularly negative impression of wardens to start off with, that's saying something.
An important point to note before I go on is that this establishment is located on a particularly wide road, a road with those big black dustbins every 500 yards or so, so a car parked for 15 mins or less at the side of the road would not be in anyone's way whatsoever.
So to continue, the fastidious traffic wardens had caused the following to occur in 2007:
- Countless customers had received tickets upon stopping on the single yellow to pick up orders for collection. Even with the car in clear view of the driver the whole time and hazards switched on, the warden deemed this an offence worthy of a £30/£60 fine.
- Traffic wardens, up to 4 on certain weekday afternoons, would swoop on the area at around 5pm as this was a popular time for people to pick up food on the way home from work.
- Delivery staff for the Chinese restuarant receive parking tickets on a near daily basis. The majority of these are eventually overturned but the hassle of protesting the shop's case is one the owners can clearly do without.
And, worst of all,
- An elderly man, assessed at 70 years old, had received a ticket when he stopped outside the shop to change a punctured tyre. The poor man was shaking with haste as he tried his best to switch the wheels in time. The miserable warden refused to relent despite a small crowd of onlookers giving him pelters for his actions.
So overall, it was deeply disappointing and thoroughly disheartening to hear the woman's recollections.
Further to this, the business rates for the area were described as "crushing" and on that street alone there have apparently been numerous new shops that have had to close after a mere 3 months in business. The primary reason being insufficiently aware of just how expensive business rates are though thankfully this is an issue the SNP are well on their way to addressing.
On top of this expense to small businesses, the cost of a permit for the nearby area for the delivery drivers would be £900/year per driver. This is 11 times the rate for a domestic vehicle. Given (1) the level of would-be-customers that are not stopping into buy take-away food due to the needless parking restrictions and over-zealous wardens and (2) the exorbitant business rates, this is an expense that many shop owners simply cannot afford.
I know we need to cut down on cars in the city but this overly harsh approach to traffic offences is clearly the wrong way to go about it. The majority of Edinburgh residents are fed up with the traffic wardens' behaviour which has bordered on fascist and I sincerely hope the council will take action soon.
If these wardens have a daily quota to work towards or some sort of commission-based pay, it needs to end, pronto.