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Traffic wardens turn to calculators, clampers target ambulances

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This week’s big motoring news has to be Swindon Borough Council’s decision to look again at the use of speed cameras. Or is it? El Reg is not so sure, as we explain below.

Meanwhile, peculiar parking practices continue to hit the headlines. Red faces all round in Torbay, where one parking enforcement officer attempted to tell the time using a calculator. Very simple, he thought: his victim parked up at 14.49 and paid for 75 minutes. So that’s 14.49, add .75, which equals 15.24. We trust we don’t need to provide any further explanation of the flaw in this logic.

Apparently, this genius is now destined for some re-training. Or should that be re-programming?

Parking life

Consternation, too, at Kings College Hospital, where one NHS trust has started clamping ambulances. Has NHS free marketry finally gone too far? Not quite. Dig a little deeper, and you will find that these are private ambulances occupying hospital ambulance bays AFTER they have dropped off non-urgent cases. Its still not something we like the sound of: but it’s far less headline-worthy than it sounds.

Bigger issues are in play over in Nottingham, where the local council is pushing ahead with plans for a Workplace Parking Levy. The basic idea is that employers who provide parking for their staff or certain types of business visitors would have to pay a yearly levy.

This is expected to start in 2010 at £185 per liable parking space and then rise over time to £350. The council believes that by penalising individuals who park in the city, they will encourage greater uptake of public transport.

This brainwave is one to watch. Like congestion charging, it is attractive to councils looking for new ways to raise cash, and once one council does it we should expect others to follow.

Still, it doesn’t yet come close to rates in London. A report out yesterday revealed that London Parking Charges are the most expensive in the world. The monthly rate for parking in the City is top of the list at £586 - exactly double that of New York's midtown area - followed closely by the West End, at £568 per month

More charges are on the way, as Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly wonders aloud about the possibility of turning the hard shoulder on some motorways into a toll road – and charging motorists £5 a time for using it.

Back in Swindon, the silly season started early with a hissing spat between Tory leader of the Council, Roderick Bluh and local Labour MP and PPS to the Transport Minister Anne Snelgrove.

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