Friday, 19 July 2019

Peer with finger on pulse when it comes to parking

Peer with finger on pulse when it comes to parking

LORD Leigh of Hurley has given the beleaguered Prime Minister a boost — and the same for the Henley Standard to boot!

The financier, who was made a peer in 2013, spoke in a House of Lords debate on the Parking (Code of Practice) Bill last week when it had its second reading.

The Private Members’ Bill would limit parking charges to a maximum of £100 and introduce a statutory 10-minute “grace period” for drivers when they park, giving them enough time to read the terms and conditions of parking.

It would also establish an independent appeals process for drivers who feel they have been unfairly penalised by private companies.

Lord Leigh, 59, a Conservative who bought a house in Hurley 11 years ago, backed the Bill, saying: “Parking is a subject that seems to be at the core of some people’s lives and I suspect that I might be guilty of being somewhat overzealous about it myself.

“I recall that, when the announcement was made of my elevation to the peerage, I received congratulatory letters, not least from someone who said how jealous they were that I would have free parking in SW1.”

He then recalled how a few years ago he had noticed that a large number of single yellow lines in Westminster had been turned into double yellow lines, meaning parking after 6.30pm was no longer available.

Westminster Council, which he said had “form” in being anti-motorist, refused to quantify the extent of its clampdown but agreed to provide information for just the West End ward in the preceding three years.

Lord Leigh said: “I discovered that some 433 metres of single yellow line had been lost to double yellow lines.

“It is a great loss to motorists and to businesses, which would otherwise benefit from late-night shoppers, particularly in this difficult retail environment, not to mention restaurateurs, theatres and the like.”

He then referred Theresa May’s intervention in a parking issue in Hurley (“where my nomen dignitatis indicates that I am from”) when the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead sought to impose “all sorts of ugly signage and parking restrictions in no lesser place than the high street”.

Lord Leigh said: “Fortunately, we have an excellent MP who helped the village reach a satisfactory compromise on its parking and signage.

“It was during these important and critical negotiations with the council, with the enormous help of the local MP, who was then Home Secretary (she does win some arguments against authorities), that I had the chance to get to know the regulations… which cover the precise nature and size of parking signs allowed.”

Finally, he praised the Henley Standard, referring to our Not So Smart Parking campaign of last year, which exposed an enforcement company for issuing unfair fines of up to £160 to scores of people who parked at Townlands Memorial Hospital in Henley.

He said: “They were being fined even when they drove through the car park without stopping — such is its configuration that one can drive through it.”

Lord Leigh then told fellow peers: “It is up to us to ensure good operators are allowed to thrive and others are curtailed... to ensure that the estimated 250billion vehicle miles travelled in the UK in any one year are not subject to rogue opportunists.”

After the debate, he told the Diary: “The issue isn’t necessarily a personal obsession but whenever I see a wrong that should be righted I feel it’s our job in the House of Lords to do something about it.

“When this Bill came along, it rang a bell as I remembered reading it on the front page of the paper. Before speaking last week, I went back to the Henley Standard website to refresh my memory and I thought, ‘this is exactly the sort of thing that the Bill is meant to stop’.

“I felt it was a good idea to mention it by way of evidence rather than waffling about the issue in general. It is good to know that sometimes the paper’s words lead to action.”

Hear, hear, as they might say in the House.

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