Grrr. The City of Brighton & Hove has for some reason never liked people driving into the city and parking. Nowadays it has a Green Party MP, and Green policies have descended with a very heavy hand, reinforcing what was always an anti-motorist bias.
Thus much of the city is plagued by 20mph zones. I will admit that these make it safer for pedestrians, because cars and other vehicles can stop quicker if the said pedestrian wanders carelessly or recklessly out into the road, as the more spaced-out ones will; or if a cyclist jumps a red light, as the arrogant ones are prone to do. I will also admit that the 20mph limit keeps traffic flowing more evenly, avoiding that 'racetrack surge' as traffic lights turn green. It is however impossible to adhere to 20mph when going up a hill, unless you let your engine labour, churning out polluting gases - and Brighton is very hilly place in parts. A slow speed like this is also very aggravating when you just want to make some rapid progress from A to B, for an appointment perhaps.
If this were not bad enough, the city's policy on parking is truly abysmal. Really, it seems as if they don't want you to park at all. Spaces are hard to find, it's very expensive, and the parking wardens are draconian. Expect no mercy. Whenever I park in Brighton, I always spend time checking that I have complied in all respects with what the signs say, and whatever else it may require one to do on the ticket from the machine. Thus I pay great attention to ensuring that not a millimetre of Fiona ever goes over the parking space markings on the road. Well, maybe this is what I should do anyway; but the wardens are implacable if anything is not as it should be, and they are clearly instructed to look for fault. Fear of a swingeing fine makes you very, very careful.
I'm surprised that the local Chamber of Commerce doesn't violently object. Crawling speeds and difficult and expensive parking must put many a shopper off.
And lately another sneaky method of getting extra cash out of wicked car drivers has been introduced. It used to be possible - if you knew where - to park for four hours for a mere £3. The tariff had been this:
Up to 1 hour £1
Up to 2 hours £2
Up to four hours £3
I'd found a route into central Brighton that took me past a series of these £3-for-four-hours spots, and it usually enabled me to find a convenient space to park at reasonable cost (reasonable for Brighton, that is). I became accustomed to feeding three £1 coins into the machine, and getting the four-hour ticket I wanted in return. After a time, this became an automatic, unthinking process.
I did it as usual last Tuesday evening.
But then, as I displayed the ticket on Fiona's windscreen, something about it caught my attention. That's right...my £3 hadn't bought me the expected amount of time. Only two hours, not four.
Returning to the machine, I discovered that they'd added 20p - an insignificant but vital amount - to the old price. Which meant that I'd just wasted £3, because the two hours it now bought me wasn't enough.
So Disgruntled of Mid-Sussex delved into her purse, disinterred another three £1 coins and a 20p piece, and bought another ticket. Grumbling, she replaced the first ticket with the second, and brooded savagely on that wasted £3.
How many other motorists were being caught out like this, at least once? And I had been lucky enough to spot my error and put it right before leaving my car. If I hadn't done that, and a warden had come along after the two hours were up - and they sadistically lie in wait - then I'd return to find a Parking Offence Notice wrapped around a windscreen wiper. And an invitation to pay whatever the penalty was - £80 now, I think. And I'd be very upset at the unfairness and underhandedness of it all.
Well, by pure chance I'd had a narrow escape, and was poorer by only £3 instead of £80. But I still felt very annoyed.
I don't think many other cities behave so badly towards people wanting to drive in, park, and then (potentially anyway) spend lots of money on their evening entertainment.