Thursday, March 11, 2010

The EU advances; Public Works; and the Daily Parking Free-for-all.

I guess no one should be surprised that the EU is using the Greek farce/tragedy to justify the next step in the creation of a true political union – a European Monetary Fund. Even less surprising is that the lead is being taken by France, even though the rather-less-keen Germans will probably end up as the paymaster. If not exactly the tune-master. Of course, the various peoples of Europe might not be keen on this but, then, they’re never going to be asked, are they? Not smart enough to understand the issues. And too emotional. But back to the plans . . . The Financial Times tells us that “According to German thinking, the plan could include tough penalties for eurozone members that fail to curb deficit spending or run up excessive government debt. Ideas include cutting off countries that fail to curb deficit spending from EU cohesion funds, temporarily removing their right to vote in EU ministerial meetings and suspension from the eurozone.” But then the paper adds:- “These may prove very difficult for France to swallow, given its own record of greater fiscal laxity than Germany”. So, there’s a way to go yet.

The Spanish government’s investment in recession-fighting public works has been done under the banner of Plan E. The cost of the ubiquitous signs reminding us of the money being spent must alone have run to millions of euros even before a centimo was spent on any work itself. Anyway, I suspect most towns in Spain have their equivalent of the pavement and walls around our Alameda, which were (very slowly) taken up/down and (equally slowly) replaced. I was reminded of this today when I saw that a perfectly good flight of stone steps up to the bridge I use were being replaced by some new ones in aluminium (or aluminum for our American friends). This seems to have been a bigger event than I would have thought, as the cameras of the regional TV station were there. Which shows just how desperate they are for news. Anyway, here’s my foto of the work in progress:-

Which leads me naturally into the fotos of the illegally parked cars around town yesterday morning. The question arising around these is not why the ever-un-ruley Spanish do this sort of thing but why they’re allowed to get away with it. Surely, in these straitened times, there’s an easy source of town-hall revenue here that’s going begging. Can it be that – in contrast to the morally, if not legally, dubious speed traps on the open roads – it’d be considered a step too far for the authorities? If so, is it because there’s some un-stated social contract under which the people refrain from giving their consent to hassle of this order? And which the council respects in fear of the consequences at the next election? If so, how is it that some cities have introduced parking meters and traffic wardens, whereas others haven’t?

Anyway, here’s a list of the sort of offences committed a thousand times a day here, starting with the simplest and least inconvenience-causing and going on from there:-
Parking on yellow lines or chevrons
Parking in unloading bays
Parking in front of bus-stops
Parking partly on the pavement
Parking on the pavement so as to prevent pedestrians using it
Parking on the yellow lines at a box junction
Parking so as to block in legally parked cars
Parking so as to obstruct garage entrances/exits
Parking so as to prevent buses turning corners or navigating roundabouts (circles)
Parking on zebra crossings

Or any combination of these. And doubtless others I’ve missed.

And here are the fotos:-

Thank-you and Goodnight.


Anonymous said...

(or photos for our English friends)

santcugat said...

In many towns in Spain the traffic wardens are subcontracted, so they can only give tickets in you don't pay your meter.

If you park completely illegally, they can't give you a ticket (only the police can do that).

Another rule I've found works very well: if it's the first sunny day after a couple rainy days, do not park illegally, as the police is behind on their quota.

Colin said...


Manyt thanks for these insights. Is it true that one can ignore the tickets from the local police with greater impunity than those from the Guardia Civil? Or have things tightened up now?

Anthea said...

I love the illegal parking photos. By the roundabout, down the road from where we live is a notice reminding motorists that they can improve traffic flow by NOT parking in illegal places. It doesn't seem to have had much effect so far.

Ferrolano said...

We all need to understand that those road signs and markings ONLY apply to other people and NOT to me….!!

In fairness to the motorist in Spain, numerous cities seem to delight in turning their streets into pedestrian only venues, without first having thought about or provided close and economical parking. The motorist when obliged to go into town to run a 10 minute errand will park where he or she can. If the journey is some amount of shopping, well off they go to the local hypermarket where parking is freely available. This of course at the expense and demise of the in town shops.

Anonymous said...

Here in Andalucia parking anywhere is "legal" as long as your hazard lights are flashing. Just to be sure, even the bus drivers use their hazard lights when stopped at bus-stops.

Colin said...

And I always thought this was to make the car invisible!