Thursday, June 17, 2004

Joined up Parking?

I had dinner with some folks tonight - great fun, great food, great company - and we got to talking about joined up government (as anyone who has dinner with me usually does, except for my mother). It was prompted by a guy who had parked one night and come back to find his car not there. Or, I suppose, not find his car. First question - has it been stolen? How would you know? Has it been towed? How would you know? In fact it was the latter, but he only found out a day later after struggling through the website of the local authority concerned and, eventually, using Google. He found a 24 hour number, which he called. They said "this is the housing line, not the 24 hour line" ... despite it being on the website as the 24 hour line. Eventually, he got to the place where they put cars that have been towed. The borough where it was taken from was in the North of London, the pound was in the South (isn't outsourcing great). He paid the money (2 days worth by then as it had taken him so long to find the car) and left. Joined up government? A single site to help the citizen? To all those who laugh at the idea of one site, why wouldn't you have one (government) site where you type in your number plate and it tells you the status of your car, e.g. "insured, taxed, MOTed and presently impounded at blahblah"? Or "insured, taxed, MOTed, last saw a parking ticket at blahblah"? Or, maybe if we got really clever, "insured and now at co-ordinates X,Y,Z which is X street in Y Borough" so you would know if it was on the move and being drive by someone else? Are those government services? Probably not. But where else would you go? Tell me how you would find these out if you parked your car on the border of Westminster and Camden and didn't actually know which it was when your car was towed? Good luck. Joined up parking fines. That's a start!

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