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Thursday, 7 June 2012

A Welsh Traffic Wardens' Tale

We all have traffic warden stories! Wouldn’t the world be a better place without them?

My worst moment was when a warden in Nottingham gave me a ticket for placing my mother’s disabled badge the wrong way up! And only last week I had to impersonate an aging Ussain Bolt as a warden was in the process of booking me when I was on my was back from the pay machine..

So it must have seemed like Christmas had come early when Aberystwyth in mid-Wales decided to do away with them. What wisdom? What a place to live?

After just a year the wardens are back after the parking system seems to have descended into chaos. Cars were regularly parking on yellow lines, in loading bays, in disabled bays and on pavements. Cars were left parked for days on end. Residents began to avoid the Town Centre as parking was becoming too stressful.

Who would have thought that traffic wardens would be welcomed back like returning heroes??

Of course the parking laws themselves were not changed. It remained illegal to park in a disabled bay without the badge. But what was lost was the means of enforcing the law. It became a disorganised free for all.

Any first year law student will tell you that one of the reasons we have laws is to enable a society to function within a secure structure. But those laws become meaningless if there is no effective means of enabling them to operate.

Over the last few months we have seen the most devastating cuts in access to justice in a generation. Legal Aid has been virtually wiped out. Alternative means of funding cases, such as no win no fee agreements, have come under severe attack making them far more difficult to use. We are expecting many people to be derived of legal advice and a huge increase in people having to pursue their own cases. The court service, already stretched, will simply not cope.

Many will be deterred from pursuing justice altogether.

Any society which does not have equal access to its justice systems regardless of wealth risks chaos.

Let the Welsh traffic wardens be a lesson to us all!

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