Why, my incredibly sensitive ears hear you cry, am I bothered about car parking? It's not as if I drive. Indeed I'm more used to being chauffeured around. Well the reason is this: there's a big hooha near my home in Paisley about the change to the parking arrangements at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have introduced a managed car park system at the RAH where parking is free for up to four hours, thereafter a fine of £40 will be charged (reduced to £20 if paid within two weeks). Only 460 parking permits were issued to staff out of a workforce of 3000. Hospitals workers are outraged at not being able to park for free while they work and have taken to parking in the local area instead. The locals have reacted furiously to this with angry windscreen notes and car vandalism. One sixty nine year old man is currently "helping the police with their enquiries". How stupid is he? If any of the staff caught him, they'd thump him. And where would he end up? In the RAH, being 'looked after' by the people who put him there. Is he hoping he's assaulted so badly he qualifies for a disabled parking bay outside his house? Then he could sit in his wheelchair at his front window and laugh at all the nurses spotting his space then moving on, disappointed. Silly parker!
This parking problem is nothing new but it is growing. The Council have recently extended the parking tariff zones in town, meaning free parking can only be found further away from the town centre in residential areas. Residents of these previously quiet streets are upset at workers leaving their cars all day outside their homes. They complain to the council who in response extend the tariff zone even further. If it continues the whole of Paisley will end up entirely tariffed. There will be a sign at the Paisley boundary that will read "Paisley welcomes careful drivers - unless they want to stop!" The Robertson Car Park will be designated a Park and Ride site and extended to cover the entire Gleniffer Braes. And then where am I going to be taken for my long walks? Ayrshire?
The Council has a clear remit to make sure the roads of Paisley are safe. They seem to have a strange but audacious plan for achieving this:
1. Constantly amend the one-way system so strangers and locals alike end up leaving, having been unable to work out what lane they should have been in to reach their destination;
2. Pedestrianise the town centre and extend a tariffed parking zone around it. This drives shoppers elsewhere, e.g. Johnstone and Braehead where they have free parking, so less people come to Paisley;
3. Allow more businesses to collapse and fail to attract new business to the area. Even less people come to Paisley. Less demand for parking, so less complaints about it;
4. Roads are used less so need less repair. Deserted streets need less cleaning. Council saves money. Which is good because there's less revenue coming in from business and car parks to pay for these services;
5. Cut other services like education and health. Anyone not on benefits moves elsewhere;
6. Make driving a car so expensive that anyone on benefits cannot afford it.
Plan succeeds. Empty roads means safe roads. And they say my ideas are crazy.