I made the mistake of driving to London again this week.
I was working in Kensal Green where parking is by tickets issued by meters at the roadside, controlled by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
I had come armed with a bag of pound coins. I started to feed them into the machine adjacent to my car and having put three pounds in, I realised that it hadn’t registered on the screen, so I pressed the button to eject the coins.
Several times. I tapped the machine. I smacked the machine. I jiggled it, pressed the button again several more times and decided, somewhat irritated, to write the loss off and find another machine. I crossed the road put £7-80 into that machine, printed the ticket, placed it on the dashboard under the windscreen and went to work.
In the afternoon I returned, put the ticket for that day and the previous day in my bag (to claim the VAT back) and, as I was driving back to leafy Buckinghamshire, noticed something fluttering under my nearside windscreen wiper. I stopped. It was a Penalty Notice for £80 (£40 if I paid straight away) for parking without clearly displaying a valid ticket.
Without having an illuminated arrow pointing at the blasted thing, I am not sure what else I could have done. So I am now going to have to join an undoubtedly long queue of motorists dancing the ritual fandango of producing my valid ticket and convincing them of my probity.
But whereas I was minded to overlook the purloined three pounds from the first dilapidated, graffiti bearing roadside bandit, I am now going to demand that back as well. In fact if they are obdurate, and I fully expect a version of ‘the computer says no’ to assail me when I write enclosing my evidence, then I shall certainly go to court to defend this one and counterclaim for my three pounds.
Time consuming? Undoubtedly and I would have written it off had I not felt so aggrieved about the injustice of fining me for something I haven’t done.
I have paid parking fines in past when I have overstayed my welcome by mere minutes, on the basis that I have no actual grounds for contesting them; this time I am digging in.
Wish me luck. I suspect that I will need it.