Alan Castle: County wheels turn far too slowly

HOW slowly the wheels of local government turn.

It appears, though, the fate of nations can be decided within a few weeks as is happening with aspects of the Euro crisis and the Greek bail-out.

Yet our Northumberland County Council cannot come up with a simple solution to solve the dilemma of parking in Alnwick Market Place.

I, as a law-abiding citizen and motorist, get mad when I see cars parked in the Market Place and doing so without paying any parking fee.

The site contained 37 short-term bays until 1999, when the now defunct Alnwick District Council was given £295,000 by the European Union to pedestrianise and overhaul the square, with vehicles banned.

I wrote in May of this year that the Gazette had carried an item 12 months previously that a campaign against illegal parking was being launched in the said Market Place.

In February, the following also appeared in the Gazette: “An ‘unenforceable’ parking ban in the historic centre of Alnwick may have to be changed, council bosses have been warned.”

That after they have been talking about the problem for months.

Now, May was six months ago and what is the situation now? Quite simply, now and then, police officers appear on the scene and warn motorist that they are breaking the law by passing through no-entry signs unless they are loading or unloading.

One day last week, there were more than 20 vehicles parked and not a parcel being loaded or unloaded nor a policeman in sight.

What I do not understand is if the police want to stop it, they can slap a notice on every car parked there warning them once, take a note of their number plate and the next time they are seen in the said area slap a fixed penalty notice on them.

They would not be done for illegal parking, because the powers that be have not come up with a solution, but surely they can be done for entering a pedestrian area where there are two large street signs proclaiming it so.

For all those people who park legitimately and pay for our parking, whether on a daily visit or on a season-long parking ticket, it is time something was done and done quickly. So far, it appears some motorists are making a mockery of the law as it stand at present and do so knowingly while the county council bumbles along to find a solution.

THE other day, I had to contact BT because I wanted to purchase something from them.

I was warned on the web that said pleasure would cost me a maximum of £1.53 if I contacted them by phone. I also find that when you use the web for buying purposes, some firms bang on an extra charge, sometimes up to £5, for using the booking or purchase service. What a rip-off!

We recently purchased an item that cost several hundreds of pounds. We found it on the web, but I wanted to see it to ask questions and make sure what I was getting was what I wanted. By making the trip to a shop, I saved nearly £100 by listening to the excellent sales person who offered more advice that you were ever likely to get on your screen – he clinched the deal.