Harmful visitor policy

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ON A recent visit to a near-deserted Staithes I parked up in a clearly-marked parking space on the high street. The space had no yellow lines and I displayed my blue badge. On returning to my car I noticed that I had been given a parking ticket, despite the fact that I could not possibly have impeded any movement of traffic or pedestrians; apart from me and my two passengers/guests, I remember seeing only three other visitors. Apart from one white van, there was no activity or loading/unloading from the entire parking-designated stretch on the high street.

Even though I have lived in Sheffield for many years, I grew up in Middlesbrough and my family came from North Yorkshire. The area is still very dear to me - I visit it often, I am still a season-ticket holder at Middlesbrough FC and at Yorkshire CCC, and I stay in the area at various venues, including Scarborough while the cricket’s on.

Over the years I have brought many people to the area, and I have a great attachment to the places and to the people.

This fondness does not extend to Scarborough Borough Council, not least because of its attitude to visitors and its treatment of drivers. My friends and family inform me that they think I am kind, caring, trustful, thoughtful and helpful, but I have to say that over the last few years I have developed a great distrust of Scarborough Borough Council’s parking policy and its enforcement.

There are two main reasons for this. First, I have been punished for what I would rate as marginal offences, where application of common sense by the wardens has been totally absent. Indeed, I have built an image of shady officers with no sympathy but a great likeness for catching out the unwary. Many I have witnessed in Scarborough look as if they would have been at home working for the more dubious arms of pre-Berlin-Wall East European dictatorships.

The total absence of empathy with the visitor is emphasized by the failure of Scarborough Borough Council to answer any communication on the matter.

The second reason for distaste is that I strongly suspect that parking arrangements are kept deliberately unclear in order to maximise the amount of money which can be extracted from unwary visitors. Anybody listening to conversations during Scarborough’s Yorkshire cricket weeks will have heard people asking each other for clarification and for explanation of the ludicrous card schemes.

I am 63 now and have retired from full-time work, but I drive a great deal - probably 25 to 30,000 miles a year throughout the country - and I am sorry to say that I have not come across a meaner, less sympathetic authority than Scarborough’s. Of course, they can keep collecting in the money in the knowledge that ordinary people like me have no effective means of retaliation.

However, it is a short-sighted policy, for persistent harassment of visiting drivers could just tip a marginal decision, like where to visit for a short or a long break, away from the North Yorkshire area.

For my own part, I will continue to visit the area which I love, but I will make certain adjustments. For example, I now know that I can never again visit Staithes, because I am registered disabled and the bank is too steep for me to walk up and down. I will certainly not park there again in case one of the faceless traffic operatives is hiding behind a net curtain waiting for the next victim. I will also make sure that I never again support any initiative led by Scarborough Borough Council. I will not support with my presence or my money any event organised or sponsored by them, and I will ask friends and family of mine to adopt the same stance.

To those of you who work for the odious Scarborough Borough Council, I offer my sympathy and good luck for the future - you will need it if their treatment of other humans is how I have found it!

Derek Agar

Oakdale Road

Sheffield