There’s trouble in East Grinstead as ‘problem parkers’ dump their vehicles in the sleepy little town then disappear off by train to Gatwick for a holiday, or to London for a long weekend. And it’s driving the residents nuts.
One woman is so fed up with travellers leaving their cars clogging up the road outside her house that she’s at her wits end. At one point a car was left outside her house for nine days while its owner swanned off somewhere or other.
Long-suffering Janet Furnish, who lives on Halsford Park Road in East Grinstead, says she’d planned to confront the vehicle’s driver when they returned, but the offenders managed to collect the car while she was out. So she missed the opportunity.
In her opinion the selfish holidaymakers dumping their cars make it impossible for large vehicles to get down the road. And she should know, as she’s having building work done at the moment and problem parkers are driving her builders nuts, too. No wonder East Grinstead Town Council is determinedly opposing a second runway at Gatwick.
As Janet said:
“Parking here is really bad. The poor builders had to park down road and walk all the way back carrying everything in wheelbarrows. Drivers often leave cars for long periods of time. Because we’re close to the station I think they go off to Gatwick or London for a long weekend. You can’t blame people for not wanting to pay for car parking on top of their travel, but none of us want them parking on our doorstep.”
Gatwick parking – What’s going wrong?
It’s an interesting story for more than one reason. First, it illustrates a level of selfishness most people would be ashamed off. Second it’s a crazy practice when Gatwick airport parking is such good value, so convenient and so close to the terminals. And third it begs this question: if people are ignoring the airport’s excellent parking facilities in favour of blocking public roads, annoying residents and catching trains, what is going wrong at Gatwick? Why are people deciding not to use the airport’s massive, secure, safe on-premises car parks?
Who’s job is it to make sure people park responsibly in East Grinstead?
According to the local press, West Sussex county councillor Heidi Brunsdon says there have been two consultations looking at Controlled Parking Zones in the town, one as recent as 2014. Parking surveys took place in May last year and the results are still being compiled. The delay in itself must be annoying for residents, with the report not being due until ‘later this year’. One wonders why it’s taking so long…
Because the cars haven’t been dumped in the normal sense, just left parked while their owners enjoy long weekends in London and holidays abroad, the police can’t help. According to Sussex police, “if these vehicles aren’t parked illegally or causing an obstruction or a safety hazard, it is not a police matter. The resident needs to contact Mid-Sussex District Council in the first instance.”
At the same time a spokeswoman for Mid Sussex District Council explained that while West Sussex County Council are responsible for parking restrictions on the road, parking officers from Mid Sussex are regularly asked to make sure parking restrictions are ‘enforced properly’.
In other words, everyone’s passing the parcel. And this kind of Teflon-desking isn’t the best way to sort out a problem that doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon. Just imagine what residents will have to put up with during the holiday season. Nightmare.
Gatwick parking is such good value for money – from £3.99 a day
The crazy thing is, Gatwick airport parking is genuinely good value for money. It’s on the site itself. You don’t need to catch a train. You don’t even need to walk. There are plenty of shuttle buses. You can pre-book Gatwick parking so all you need to do is turn up. If that isn’t convenient enough for you, you can even arrange meet and greet parking at Gatwick, AKA Gatwick chauffeur parking or Gatwick valet parking. Whatever you prefer to call it, it means you don’t even have to do the parking bit yourself. All you do is drive to the terminal, hook up with your meet and greet driver and they will park your car for you. What’s not to like?
By the same token if you’re going for a long weekend in London, paying a tenner a day Congestion Charge isn’t a big deal in the great scheme of things, and the city’s excellent Q Park scheme can cut 50% off parking in the Congestion Zone. Again it begs the question, why do an increasing number of people find it more convenient to dump their car miles and miles from the city and catch a train in? In short, why clog up other people’s living spaces when the alternatives are so simple, convenient and cheap?
A bit about Gatwick chauffeur parking
Meet and greet parking at Gatwick is brilliant if you’re on your own, let alone when you’re struggling with luggage/kids/pets. As well as having your car picked up at the terminal it’ll be dropped off for you, so all you have to do on the home journey is find your vehicle and get in. All courtesy of a friendly, fully-insured valet driver. And it only costs about 15% more than the regular Gatwick park and ride service.
Compared to parking your car at East Grinstead, finding the station, buying tickets and struggling with luggage, finding the right terminal at the Gatwick end and doing it all again on the home journey, surely there’s no contest? But as they say in Yorkshire, there’s nowt as strange as folk!
What’s your opinion on problem parking?
If you’ve ever indulged in problem parking, why did you do it? Would you do it again? And how would you feel if your road was jammed with cars whose owners had left them there instead of paying for proper parking facilities?