Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Man angry at fine after car towed

A HENLEY office worker has complained after his car was towed from its usual parking place

A HENLEY office worker has complained after his car was towed from its usual parking place during the royal regatta.

Liam Sharp paid a £150 fine and £100 in taxi fares to retrieve the Honda Civic, which was removed from Deanfield Avenue and impounded in High Wycombe on Thursday two weeks’ ago.

The 36-year-old, who works at the Screaming Frog digital agency in Greys Road, had fallen foul of temporary traffic restrictions to deter regatta visitors from parking in the street.

However, he claims it wasn’t clear that the ban or a towing operation were in place.

Mr Sharp, of Wokingham, arrived at about 7.30am and parked in his regular spot outside the former Wilkins removals offices, immediately opposite the entrance to the Henley College’s Deanfield campus.

The road was marked with yellow “no parking” cones but it was not clear who had laid them.

A single piece of laminated A4 paper outlining the restrictions, but not the towing, was attached to a lamp-post on the opposite pavement. Mr Sharp said Wilkins often coned off that area so he assumed the company was responsible. He parked behind four other cars that arrived before him.

When he left work at 4.30pm he found the street empty so he called the police, who told him it was one of 11 that had been towed that morning.

He didn’t have time to reach the pound before it shut so he took a £50 taxi home and another costing £50 to collect it from 24-7 Rescue and Recovery, a private contractor, the following day.

Mr Sharp has worked in Henley for about three years but previously worked from home during the regatta so didn’t know about the ban.

He has complained to Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, which is responsible for drawing up and signposting temporary restriction orders.

He said: “At first I thought I was going mad. I wondered if I’d parked somewhere else and forgotten but the police said it had been towed.

“The sergeant told me there was clear signage but I disagree. No-one in their right mind would park there if they knew how expensive and inconvenient it would be.

“Having your car towed is horrible. You feel helpless and a bit violated and you’re left wondering how you’re going to get around.”

David Nimmo Smith, who is Henley’s county councillor and Oxfordshire’s highways member, said the matter would be discussed at a regatta wash-up meeting in the autumn.

He said: “I can sympathise to a degree but cones are cones - they are there for a reason and clearly state that you shouldn’t park there. We followed the correct procedure, which is the same one we follow every year.”

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