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The Parking News Effect

Rita the meter re- made

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The allegedly satirical television show Have I Got News for you likes to make fun of trade magazines - the likes of The Embalmer, Commercial Rabbit, Potato and Parking News come in for regular digs.

Now The Guardian's City Diary is getting in on the act:

Fans of rival cult magazine Parking News, house journal of the British Parking Association, will be thrilled to learn the March issue is out. There are 58 pages of things to say about parking. "If you believe the press," writes contributor Nick Lester on page 4, "local authorities are just out to make money and see the motorist as an easy victim. How far from the truth that is ..." Parking News comes highly recommended...

...Especially by my chum Jon Godfrey, an IT lifecycle management consultant, who hangs out at Technical Asset Management, the Welwyn Garden City computer recycling firm.

Parking News, it seems, it's the Slashdot of the ...err... parking world. A small news item in the Parking News March issue highlighted the availability of second-user Husky handhelds for rent from TAM - and before you know it, companies the length and breadth of the UK want some for their meter maids.

TAM picked up 20,000 Huskys (rugged as Afghanistan but pretty damn expensive to buy) last year from BT. Twelve thousand were cannibalized for spare parts, leaving 8,000 for reconditioning and resale or rental. Five thousand went out the door PDQ, but then sales slowed down. So the Parking News piece was a welcome boost, Godfrey tells us.

But who wants to take in old Huskys? Apparently, it's not just parking companies and councils, but corporates are getting in on the act. The anecdotal evidence from TAM is that several big customers are putting projects on ice to equip field staff with ruggedized Pocket PCs. The software is too flaky, and employees keep breaking the screens.

The anecdotal evidence from Godfrey about Parking News is that it's not safe to have a copy in public: "I started reading the March issue on a train, and then I noticed everyone staring at me," he recalls. "I might as well have been reading Whitehouse or Mein Kampf, I could feel the people's hatred welling." He put the paper back into his briefcase.

On the way home, he took out Parking News again, but this time safely wrapped inside The Standard. ®

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