Having recently taken my family out for a meal in the centre of Swindon, I returned to my car to find that I had misread the board (6pm – 6am: £1.80 for over 2 hours), and thinking of when I might leave the restaurant, I paid £1.80 (as I would leave just after 8pm).
Unfortunately, I bought the ticket just before 6pm, and therefore, I should have paid the peak time rate. This must happen frequently because the warden issued the ticket shortly after 6pm and there were a few cars with recently issued tickets on.
Now the council might rub its hands together over the additional income generated through the fine (£25, which I paid immediately) but the unintended consequence of its greed is that I will not eat out in the centre of Swindon again and the cost to businesses will be circa £1,000 a year; money that will be spent out of the town centre in restaurants devoid of commission hungry wardens. The council might think it is clever but it is slowly killing off the town centre as a place for families to eat out.
I bet this initiative, and the lack of applied common sense to people who have bought tickets and are not trying the avoid paying, is not brought up with the restaurant sector in the middle of Swindon. It is a real shame because the focus on income generation by the council at all costs tarnished a good evening out and although the food at the Swindon Rendevous was excellent, we will not be going back, it is just not worth the hassle.
It is about time the council got the bigger picture when it comes to stimulating the economy, but I suppose short term-ism is what got us in this mess in the first instance. Why else would people be out in the middle of Swindon after the shops close other than to plough money back into the local economy.
Pictured, brutalist architecture in the town centre to match brutalist car parking policy