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Parking Wars

Updated on September 15, 2018
ethel smith profile image

Now retired Eileen looks back occasionally on her working life. She is enjoying retirement and embracing older age with a smile.

Me, Me, Me!

Parking Wars Television Wise

Parking wars is a popular television series about the real-life parking disputes that many drivers encounter.

My parking wars however refers to the crazy situation in the U.K. which has resulted in pretty gardens being scrapped in order to create off-road parking

As a non car driver or vehicle owner I am looking in and shaking my head in despair but even if you love your car do you really want to live in a huge open air parking lot?

Back In 1970 Joni Mitchell Saw It Coming

British Parking Wars Real Time

We moved into our current home in 1999, a small three bedroom terraced property with a small front garden and larger back garden with double garage.

It was just what we wanted.

Set in a quiet trouble free area we have our doctor’s surgery, a pharmacist, shops, supermarkets, a major hospital and the city centre all within easy reach.

With good public transport a couple of minutes away and buses into the city centre operating and weekdays passing every ten minutes or so it did not matter that we were non-drivers.

In 1999 there were quite a few drivers along our road but most parked in their garages. The road only has parking allowed on one side as it is not wide but problems soon kicked in.

But I Want Off-Road Parking

As the children of residents grew and became drivers some households had two, or three or even four vehicles and many did not want to park even one in their garage!

There was the odd argument until one person consulted the council and arranged to have off-road parking.

For a price the council will lower the curb outside of your home enabling you to drive straight onto what was your garden.

The idea quickly spread.

To accommodate the car gardens were dug up, block-paved, concreted in one case and gravelled.

But what a tangled web of issues and arguments followed.

Parking Up Begins

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Late afternoo Whichever direction you look cars and more will follow tonight
Late afternoo
Late afternoo
Whichever direction you look cars and more will follow tonight
Whichever direction you look cars and more will follow tonight

But Where Can I Park?

As gardens became open air garages the number of parking spaces along the road decreased.

Those who have off-road parking but live on the no-parking side of our road have in effect taken the parking space from the road.

Woe betide you if you park in front of one of these drop curb affairs whether there is a car parked on the property or not.

As the parking spaces decreased residents were caught in a vicious circle.

A few years on almost all residents of properties along this road in a popular residential area have happily sacrificed their garden for off-road parking.

If someone is visiting you or delivering goods finding somewhere close to park is almost impossible.

But delivery drivers often get around this by parking on the no-parking side of the road half on and half off the sidewalk.

They seem to think this is OK although it still breaks the law by parking on double yellow lines.

Apart from breaking the law though it makes walking tricky for pedestrians who are blind or partially-sighted and those with mobility issues.

Still if you have mobility issues it is bad enough on the up and down sidewalk of dropped curbs mixed with ordinary paths.

The road is one way traffic but even so I was concerned one morning seeing a young woman walking down the middle,of the road. I asked if she was OK and she thanked me and said yes, it is just I have a bad back and cannot walk comfortably along the up and down sidewalk or as we call it in the U.K. pavement!

Great Parking?

On double yellow lines half on the pavement. When challenged shoulders were shrugged
On double yellow lines half on the pavement. When challenged shoulders were shrugged

What About The Environment And Wildlife Locally?

Ten years ago the area was flooded after a month’s worth of rain fell in one day in June. Some properties fared better than others but secondary flooding was costly and upsetting for those households affected.

The chances of flooding continue to increase with each newly block paved garden.

Gravel at least allows drainage as do flower bed borders.

However most residents that have changed their garden to a parking lot have scrapped all things garden. No borders with flowers, no hanging baskets, no plants, nothing garden related.

The impact on local wildlife has been huge.

The gardens may have been small but many had small trees, bushes, bedding plants, grass and more.

There are of course still back gardens or yards but many are now a mixture of wooden decking and hard paving.

A Way Forward

If you can afford two, three or more cars I would question why you are not living in a better property; one with space for off-road parking and more than one vehicle.

With small outdoor space our road soon looks a jumble of vehicles. Look out of your window and what do you see? The odds are you see a car or worse a van.

In my opinion the council should consider any application for a dropped curb carefully, not just take the money and run.

You can have a low maintenance garden that still has many plants and attracts wildlife. Clever planting can incorporate areas of gravel or stones with flower beds, vegetable patches plus pots and container planting even in a small garden.

It does not have to be costly. Remember where there is a will there is a way.

However it does need people to re-think their priorities and their love affair with their car.

© 2018 Ethel Smith


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