The lunacy of parking in Lewes

LIKE most of us in Lewes, I have come to accept the utter lunacy of the parking situation in Lewes and just get on with it, while I visit the ever dwindling shops in our town.

I normally walk into town from my home in Malling but today, due to being pressed for time and only needing to go to the Cliffe health shop, took my car, a medium sized estate, to the Phoenix car park.

I’m not a bad driver and, normally manage to get into parking spaces without trouble, but today was an exception. I have never before noticed how ‘slim’ some of the spaces are (it must be my age!). I have just spent a week in a leafy Birmingham suburb, where in the town centre, they park two cars in the same space as we do three!

However, I digress. I am a little above average size but, after parking in a way I thought allowed adequate room for the car alongside to open its doors, I found extracting myself from my vehicle, a little like a rebirth. I managed with a bit of an effort to get out and went off to get my ticket.

At the machine a very pleasant lady was looking a little perturbed. She had inserted £2.80 for up to 4 hours parking and had been issued with only one hour parking. Neither of us could find an attendant in the area or in Cliffe High Street so, the lady left a note on her car. I have emailed the Parking Shop to inform them.

On returning to my car a few minutes later (all for the bargain cost of 70p), the car on my near side had left, and another had parked a hairs breadth away from my car, but not overly far away from the one alongside it. It took me tenw maneouvres to extricate my car. TEN! I have fibromyalgia and the effort has now resulted in intense pain in both my shoulders! I suppose I could apply for a disabled parking badge but I don’t normally have problems parking and feel that such badges are the right of people with less transient needs than my own.

Perhaps I should in future carry ‘over heavy’ bags home or, pay 80p for the privilege of trying to remain standing in an overcrowded bus being thrashed round corners on the homeward journey (OK this has only happened twice, but I am not keen to repeat the experience of tucking two wobbly reusable but heavy shopping bags between my feet, while trying to avoid grasping some fellow travelers arm or, unmentionable part of their anatomy!). I suppose I could do ALL my shopping ‘on line’ which would negate me having to set foot in the town centre again.

Or finally, I could move to somewhere where the local authority has a little more respect and concern for its residents and encourages them to shop locally and provides conditions which ensure small businesses thrive. But hang on! I moved to Lewes 16 years ago because I love this town and the people in it.

I apologise for my ramblings but my whinge illustrates how, almost without exception over the past few years, taking a vehicle into the town has been fraught with complications. Yes, I have had two parking tickets, one to which I appealed (and sent my ticket in support) as the ticket had been blown onto the seat. However, the correspondence from the Parking Shop stated that it is MY responsibility to ensure that the ticket is clearly displayed in the windscreen and, the attendants are not obliged to take photos of the ticket clearly on the seat, having previously taken another six photos of various angles of my vehicle and the surrounding parking notices!

On occasions I’ve cut short spontaneous meetings with old friends as, once your ‘time is up’ in our car parks, you have to move somewhere else, quote: “You have to move to another car park madam or I will be obliged to issue you with a ticket for breaching the conditions of the car park”.

I’m sorry I’m not psychic, because, if I’d had the merest inkling that I’d meet someone or, would decide I’d like to have a browse round the shops for an upcoming birthday gift, I’d have gone for a 4 hour slot, thus ensuring that I have a space for any contingencies and also top up the coffers of our local authority to ‘not’ spend on the roads.I have also been ‘shortsighted’ enough not to have change for parking so, have had to buy an item to get some change. I have also been given a fake £1 coin in said change. The machines don’t like those either and, the shopkeeper said that I may well have had it in my purse prior to being given the change by them so wouldn’t reimburse me. The bank I went to said as I didn’t have an account there that they wouldn’t change it either! Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Heddy Way, Lewes