Daily Archives: April 5, 2010

Parking Meters on Yom Tov.

An atheist Golders Green parking meter

If you ever wanted to know the religion, if any, of parking meters then Easter Sunday was the day to find out.

They are atheist. Or at least the ones in Golders Green are.

How many of us have been caught out by thinking that sunday is a day off for traffic wardens only to succumb to a £50 ticket when we parked, unsuspecting, on a single yellow?

There are now sunday trading laws where small shops, those under 280 square metres, can open all day while bigger shops are restricted to six hours of business between 10am and 6pm. There are still those who wish to keep sunday special. They see any type of sunday trading as an erosion of family life.

Well sunday certainly isn’t “special” in Golders Green, north-west London where leaving your car on a single yellow while popping into Starbucks could lay you back £50, as it did me recently.

But the most special sunday of the year for this Christian country is Easter Sunday. Surely a day off for us Londoners that didn’t get to escape the smoke? Easter Sunday should be a chance for us all to breathe and not have to worry about the restrictions that apply most other days of the year.

But even on this most holy of days for this Christian country the parking meters were operating.

Britain is a country where the vast majority of people are Christian. As Nigel Farndale wrote recently:

“The Queen is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. To be British is to be one of her subjects and so, unless you opt for another religion or declare yourself an atheist, you are a member of the Church of England by proxy. We are as much a Christian country as India is Hindu, or Saudi Arabia Muslim. Nearly half the population regard themselves as being Church of England, while seven in 10 described themselves as being Christian in the last census.”

Farndale could also have added “or as Israel is Jewish”.

Barnet Council’s denigration of this holy sabbath shows lack of sensitivity for the Christian religion, for Londoners and even, if they wanted the day off, the wardens themselves.

I watched from the relative safety of Florentin restaurant on Golders Green Road as people returned to their cars astonished to see a parking ticket on their windscreen. A £50 fine on Easter Sunday wasn’t what they were expecting.

For those who were astute enough to realise the meters were operating I watched as they tried to shove coins down a metre that clearly wasn’t working. Then what do you do? Do you walk to find another metre by which time you get back and could have a parking ticket on your car already?

Barnet Council should make Easter Sunday more holy next year by treating it like the bank holiday it feels and if they don’t then they need to erect big “Parking Meters operating today” signs.

Easter Sunday; a good day to be a traffic warden.