BEING a recent victim of Cotswold District Council's Parking Services parking fine policy, I was heartened and somewhat surprised to see from your archives that I am not the only one, and that it is a running sore in the area.
My story therefore probably isn’t very unusual to you.
We decided to visit Tetbury (a potentially lovely town which we have visited on several occasions) a couple of weeks before Christmas, to visit the Christmas Market.
We arrived at the Chipping Car Park about ten to four, paid for an hour’s parking, and put the ticket on the dashboard.
It was very windy, so I went back to check that the ticket hadn’t blown off when we got out, since unlike most local authority car parks, CDC have penny-pinched on adhesive.
Sadly, Tetbury was rather dismal that afternoon, with few cars in the car park, nobody in the Chipping Court shops, and indeed, very few in the Silver Street or Church Street shops, other than a gift and card shop which is an obvious attraction at that time of year.
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The Christmas Market stalls under the Market Hall were virtually empty, and perhaps only half a dozen shoppers in the Market Hall itself.
Having bought a few things we went back to our car at about four thirty.
When we got in, the ticket flew onto the floor with the wind and then I noticed a yellow plastic envelope stuck on my windscreen, the Parking Penalty Notice.
Very annoyed, we drove around Tetbury trying to find a parking meter attendant for an explanation, but surprise, surprise they had flown, even though the PCN had only been served a few minutes before we returned.
The rest of the story fits in with the experiences of the others who have written to you.
I e-mailed Cotswold Parking Services with a copy of my parking ticket, reminding them of the strong winds that day, but (unlike other authorities I have been told about by people who had their fine waived when they showed evidence of ticket purchase) they refused to budge, and referred me to apparent evidence on their website.
So, rather than risk them withdrawing their "generous" 50 per cent discount if you pay within 14 days, and the fine being increased to £50, I sent a cheque for £25 to the Cotswold Chief Executive, complaining about their unhelpful behaviour.
Admittedly, they were kind enough to give me another 14 day in which to appeal, but, unfortunately their letter dated December 21 didn’t arrive until Christmas Eve, giving me only four working days in which to appeal.
I had little choice but to send my cheque back to them to avoid the increase in the fine, and that has been speedily debited to my account.
Incidentally, I am still waiting for the formal receipt.
This behaviour towards me and other visitors makes one wonder whether Cotswold District Council cares a jot about businesses in their area.
Certainly we were surprised at how few cars and shoppers there were in Tetbury on a weekday afternoon in December, especially as, apart from the strong wind, it was dry and not particularly cold, and the Christmas Market was advertised.
It seems that the reported attitude of the Council Leader towards shoppers in 2004 is still alive and kicking.
Furthermore, I have had no response or acknowledgement to my letter to the Chairman of Tetbury Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressing my concern, which shows that the indifference towards visitors is endemic.
So, sadly, its "Goodbye, Tetbury, you were a lovely town once upon a time"
ALAN OAKLEY East Knoyle