January 30, 2018
Yes, I know I can be an irascible git but sometimes the brutal stupidity of others’ actions, through ignorance, needs to be pointed out. Anna and I went down to North Wales to see Ann Marie, my sister. The present Mrs Ives has allergies and Ann Marie’s labrador is such a hazard. Hence we stayed nearby at a delightful hotel in what is a very nice little coastal resort. Most hotels have parking but not Anna’s pick. The requirement was that you had to proverbially ‘feed the meter’ at stupid times of the day in a nearby car park.
I admit that I failed in this simple task and some parking management warrior in a nice uniform and Ford Escort van pounced to issue a parking ticket. (I know about the Parking Marshall as I mentioned his largesse, to him, when we passed in the town later). So whilst I will pay the fine I felt that I should share a point of view with the Council’s Chief Executive, the Leader of The Council and local MP. This scurrying around to answer my letter will cost them more in administration than the £25 I will pay for this stupid fine.
No doubt I shall get told to enjoy sex and travel but we’ll see.
February 5 post script – had a letter back from the MP asking for permission to more widely circulate my letter! Chief Executive’s office has responded saying that he’s on holiday but will respond.
Subject: Conwy Town Centre Parking Regime – Tourism Prevention
Dear Mr Davies,
I write to express considerable disappointment after a brief stay in Conwy.
My wife selected The Erskine Arms as a hotel to stay at for two nights. We travelled from Yorkshire. The premises are splendid and the hotel boasts a bar and restaurant. Unfortunately parking is limited and a guest has to probably use Council pay car parks. Paying for overnight parking at a hotel would be something you’d expect in a busy city centre location and not ordinarily at a small coastal town.
We left our car in the Vicarage Gardens car park. On Sunday morning, admittedly late, I returned to the car at around 8.25 am to renew the parking. On this cold, wet and windy January morning the streets were deserted. Clearly this is low season and not only were shops shut but tourists and locals were thin on the ground. I bought a ticket and sauntered to the car to discover a parking fine. The Council Civil Enforcement Officer had got nicely into position before at 8.00am and had identified at 8.01am that my parking had expired. He duly met one of his quota penalty bookings for the shift and by 8.06 am had stuck the ticket to my windscreen.
Needless to say the car park was largely empty with a few local resident’s cars on parking permits.
I arrived with my new ticket (another £2.00) and clearly I was too late. I attach copies of tickets and the fine for verification of this activity.
If you are to pass this letter to your officials to respond then no doubt I will be told of important parking challenges in the town centre, clear signage to make potential victims aware of fines and that if I pay promptly then I can reduce the fine.
However, let me help you think about this another way:
- Guests drive a long way and check in. The hotel is hoping that the guests spend further money at the hotel and may fear telling the guest that they should arise from their slumbers before 8am (on a cold, wet and windy Sunday morning in January) to refresh the ticket. After all this will be an awful welcome and may depress food and beverage sales at the hotel. What a dilemma?
- After the parking fine is delivered to the guest the hotel will now probably receive a blow. The guest will now go on to Trip Advisor, and maybe other sites, and mark down the experience and advise people to avoid this hotel or Conwy. A £50 parking fine is probably the equivalent of 50% of their hotel bill if they only stayed one night.
- For your information my wife and I spent around £350 (at the hotel and around Conwy and Llandudno) over our two night stay.
- How welcome is this hotel and tourist revenue, in January, to the local businesses? How many people now have wages to pay their Council Tax?
- I worry that the Council doesn’t care about these tourist revenues or ‘selling’ Conwy as a welcoming destination and views parking as a revenue stream.
What your officials can do to correct this nonsense is:
- Have a seasonal extension until 9am before the Parking Marshall springs into action. I am sure they can identify parking issues that are a genuine hazard and then be nicely in place for issuing, at 9.01am, a parking ticket on a cold, wet and windy Sunday morning in January.
- Or you can extend the overnight (seasonal) charge of £0.60 from 6pm to 9am. If you are worried about the lost revenue of that hour then whack it up to £1.60 for overnight! I note you have differential arrangements for different times of the year. (Sadly the number of parking fines will fall as a result of this tourist friendly change and may reduce fine revenues).
- Or you can enable the machine to issue two tickets – one for overnight and then another from 8am the next morning thus allowing revenue to be protected?
- Or you can come to some arrangement with the hotels that allow them to have concessions for guests or for an advance ticket to be purchased via the hotel. (This is how it works in most city centre hotels where guests use local public car parks).
Lastly, you can rest assured that I will be telling all I meet about this pernicious experience. I cannot imagine that it will help tourism in Conwy. However, there again do you care?
A H Ives
Cc Councillor Gareth Jones OBE
Guto Bebb MP