Sunday, 25 July 2010

Beware of the Flowers...

By instinct, I'm normally on the side of the little guy and when the big guy happens to be NCC I feel justified in writing about it here.

So I'd like to tell you about the problems Andersons Florists on King St are having with Traffic Management.

As you can imagine they need to load and unload their stock before carting it about the place for the benefit of those who require flowers and flower related goods. According to their Facebook page they have been doing so from outside their shop since 1981.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that he is situated within the 'Clear Zone' they need a permit from NCC's Traffic Management service, without which they will fall into the clutches of NCC's army of civil enforcement officers.

As a side note, and linking back to an earlier post on NCC's comprehensive failure to comply with the EU Services Directive on providing business friendly info on council websites. I looked for quite a while and I could not find out how to apply for one of these permits. The closest I got was a permit for deliveries etc within residents parking schemes areas. They may be the same thing but you couldn't tell from the website. So you'd have to phone them up and they'd have have to post a form out which inevitably wouldn't turn up so you'd ring up again and...

Some people might suggest that NCC lacks the moral authority to go ordering others around and fining them when they don't comply with the law themselves but I digress. Andersons know how to apply for the required permits, they've been getting them for years but unfortunately their last one ran out at the beginning of July. Boss Brian Skelhorn says that he was told in classic 'computer says no' stylee that his renewal couldn't be processed until a NCC manager came back from holiday. Until then he has been told he can't load up outside the shop and has to use the single shared loading bay at the top of King St. If he doesn't comply he'll get a ticket and with CCTV trained on the street he'll get caught every time.

Andersons were in the news previously when NCC refused to let them allow glaziers to park outside the shop to fix a window. Mr Skelhorn seems to be feeling a bit picked on. You can sort of see why.

I mentioned the council's 'enforcement policy statement' in my last post and there is a whole section on 'proportionality' and the costs to business and individuals of compliance. Doesn't seem to apply here though, can they really not issue a temporary permit until the manager gets back? That would be the proportionate response in this instance.

It also says you'll get a 'courteous' service and Mr Skelhorn has one or two things to say about that on his FB page too.

It all seems like NCC's standard pattern of behaviour as seen before with issues like A-boards and changes to market trading. Too many people within NCC appear to live in an 'iron fist' fantasy world where the great unwashed are there simply to follow dictats. Sorry but that approach isn't proportionate by any means and it's time NCC started following it's own guidelines.

No comments: