The first day of charging motorists whilst their cars are stationary during delays on the M25 was declared as an astounding success by Essex County Council thanks to a number of long traffic queues caused by poor weather conditions and “sheer weight of traffic”. Under the new scheme, which currently only applies on the Essex stretch of the London orbital, anyone whose vehicle is motionless for more than 5 minutes has to pay the parking charge.
“It’s just what we were hoping for” said parking officer Eric Masters, reviewing the Bank Holiday revenue figures. “Heavy driving rain and a massive queue on the clockwise carriageway all the way from Lakeside through to Brentwood has been a great earner for us.”
Mr Masters defended the charge imposed by the Council “It is perfectly reasonable to levy a modest fee on visitors to our county whilst they sit down and enjoy beautiful countryside views such as Thurrock and Domewood.”
Motoring organisations have criticised the imposition of the new charges. The AA called for a halt to what it called the new “Tarmac Tax” whilst the RAC pointed out that many of the motorists hit by the £15 per hour charge had reported that the delays were caused by a queue that built up behind a clampers van that had stopped to fit a clamp onto a police patrol vehicle parked on the side of the motorway.
The RAC said that the ensuring delays as rubberneckers slowed down to witness the altercation between the inarticulate shaven headed rogues and the clamping operatives, wouldn’t have happened if the charges hadn’t have been in place. They said that further delays were then caused as people fumbled for change to put into the new roadside parking metres.
Among the many victims were the Davies family who were travelling home to Watford after a pleasant Easter with friends in Sevenoaks. “The journey was awful” said an exasperated Darren Davies “Not only were we delayed by 3 hours but it also cost us forty five quid. I’ve never been so relieved to reach the sanctuary of South Mimms Services” adding “and suddenly their exorbitant restaurant prices seem quite reasonable.”