On a busy local road, outside my local convenience store, there is an abandoned car (see picture, right).
It is parked under a sign that forbids parking ‘Mon – Sat, 8am – 6pm’. The car has now been in its stationary position, with two slashed tyres for around three weeks.
After seeing this vehicle every day for a week, stuck in its irregular parking position about one foot away from the kerb, I decided to contact both Mid Sussex District Council and Sussex Police, who seem to have shared responsibilities for such matters.
The response from both has been hardly dynamic, as they both seem to want to wash their hands of any responsibly of such a mundane matter as an abandoned car on Junction Road, in Burgess Hill.
This, the response from Sussex Police, ‘Vehicle is taxed, MOT’d and Insured and therefore at this time is not considered as abandoned’ was worrying because it did not indicate whether the possibility of this being a stolen car was checked or even considered.
The initial response from Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC), as well as repeating the mantra on MOT and tax, was an inaccurate denial: “As there are no parking restrictions on this highway, there is nothing we can do.”
When I pointed out that there were restrictions in place, I was passed on to the Parking department at MSDC who came back with this interesting response: “You are correct that there are parking restrictions on this road. In order for us to enforce a restriction, the area must be covered by a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) and the correct signs and lines pertaining to the order, unfortunately, due to the state of the lines we would not be able to issue a penalty charge notice.”
There was a sweetener in this response: “This road is due to be re-lined in our next batch of works. This should be commencing imminently, we will then be able to enforce.”
However, as such relining relies on co-operation between Mid Sussex District and West Sussex County Councils; am I being overconcerned in wondering how long ‘imminently’ is?
Am I a being overconcerned that there is uncertainty over what is and what is not a restricted parking area?
Am I being overconcerned that there appears to have been no check on whether a vehicle has been stolen or not?
Perhaps in today’s world, a ‘good citizen’ is one that does not bother to report such things as an abandoned car but lets the forces of local government get on with things in their own tangled way and at their own speed?
In response, a spokesman for Mid Sussex District council said: “I can understand local residents’ frustration and I would like to assure them that we are keen to resolve this matter.
“Our parking team is correct in saying that we can only enforce parking restrictions if the correct signage and line markings are in place. West Sussex County Council is responsible for road markings and we are working with them to ensure these lines are repainted as soon as possible.
“Once the lines are clearly marked we will be able to take enforcement against this vehicle.”