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Only rules and horsepower

Del Boy sees a space in the local landscape as a gap in the parking market that he really wants to fill. (A Trotters Independent Trading business breakfast imagined by Rod Williamson)

Rod Williamson
09 March 2022
Paid parking... what a good idea! (HelenHatesPeas/Flickr)

 

The scene: Nelson Mandela House, Peckham, south-east London

Del Boy breezily comes into the flat. Rodney and Uncle Albert are at the breakfast table.
 
Del Boy: ‘Rodney, Rodney guess what?’

Rodney: ‘You’ve been invited as a guest on Love Island.’

Del: ‘No, you dipstick. And what’s with the grey face, Uncle have you been cooking him one of your super greasy fry-ups again?’

Uncle Albert: ‘No, Del he’s got a Nag’s Head hangover, and his latest bird waved bye, bye.’

Del: ‘Quelle Pottage as they say in Espana. No listen up, I have struck a deal with old Savvy who runs the curry house. I am going to supply him every month with a gross of the old Chateau Merde, or whatever Monkey Harris told me it was called. And here’s the kicker Rodders, he is going to let us use this huge patch of wasteland him and his brothers own in New Cross.’

Rodney: ‘Del, sorry if I am not being too quick on the uptake but a large patch of wasteland is not going to benefit us selling hooky gear out of a suitcase.’

Del: ‘This is why you have a single GCSE in Art and I have the vision of corporate mover and shaker. I will outline to my board, that means you two malingerers, the business plan.’

Rodney: ‘So firstly Del, have got this right? The Indians have called up the cowboys.’

Del: ‘Plonker! If your Grandad could hear your cheek he’d be spinning in his grave. Mind you he probably needs the exercise. Right, we are moving Trotters Independent Traders into the car parking business. Motors always need to park, and space is at a premium. Face it, all the old combustion engines are parked up most of the time. I am not a novice in the traffic management arena.’

Uncle Albert looks up from his breakfast.

Uncle Albert: ‘Del. What do we know about parking?’

Rodney: ‘About as much as we know about nuclear fusion.

Del: ‘What is there to know! We knock a big P sign at the entrance. Trigger is to bring a council truck to clear the rubbish on site. Ol’ Denzil is going to mark out an in and out arrow at the entrance with some old paint from the lock up. Marketing plan, before you ask. Boycie is going to push a few of his bangers onto the site to look like there’s a bit of interest. We will stick Albert and you in a hut at the entrance taking cash and giving out raffle tickets for receipts.’

Rodney: ‘Well, I wasn’t expecting an audit trail or anything genuinely above board.’

Del: ‘Rodney, the government give us nothing, we give them nothing, No income tax, no VAT, no money back, no guarantee. As Boycie never said, Del you know it doesn’t make sense.

Rodney: ‘Look Del these car parks now have charging units for electric vehicles, cutting edge stuff. Technology is changing car parks by the day.’

Del: ‘Rodders, cutting edge? Haven’t I told you that years ago our dad was cruising the streets of Peckham on an electric milk float.’

Rodney: ‘I didn’t know he was a milkman.’

Del: ‘He wasn’t, he was the rear gunner.’

Rodney: ‘Del, car parks have ticket machines, or barriers and stuff like that. To make sure people pay and different pricing options. I know you’ve never paid into a parking meter because of the Out of Order bag you use.’

Del: ‘Okay, good point, I’ll speak to Mike at the Nag’s Head he knows the lads who run the one arm bandits. Sounds like the same sort of line. Sorted Rodders. Cushty,’

Rodney: ‘And Del, Mickey Pearce told me he uses his phone to pay for parking when he goes up West.’

Del: ‘His Dog and Bone? Next you’ll be telling me he can extend his parking when he’s still failing to pull at the Hippodrome.’

Albert pipes up: ‘During the war I met a wonderful gal at the Palais de Dance.’

Del: ‘Give it a rest you soppy so-and -so, Trotters Independent Traders are building a parking empire here. Yeah, what shall we call it New Cross Parking – NCP?’

Rodney: ‘Del, I think you will find that the NCP name has already been taken. Although ours could no doubt stand for No Care Provided. There are proper ways to mark out bays, and the flow of traffic. They also have proper tarmac, lighting, it’s a hell of lot more complicated than managing a lock up at Nelson Mandela House.’

Del: ‘Yes, I am getting the picture that there’s a bit more to this lark that I may first contemplated. But that’s how I got to where I am today by thinking fast on my hush puppies. And I’m not unaware Rodney that business reputation is critical. So, our car park will be pukka and the envy of the big parking operator. Image is important as well as efficiency.’

Rodney: ‘That’s no doubt why we drive a smoke belching three-wheeler! Del, think on. Albert is on the gate taking the lolly, he needs a Nelson Riddle, you know what his bladder is like. Cars park up, how can we enforce that they have not paid. They don’t even have tax discs now.’

Del: ‘Yes, I’m still a bit sad that I had to get rid of my old Guinness label that had served me well over the years. You’ve got a point there though. I don’t know what’s happened to your grey matter today, you sure you’ve not gone back on the wacky baccy?’

Rodney:  ‘No, I ain’t. One fine is quite enough and working with you is all the cosmic I can handle.’

Albert pipes up again: ‘Nah, you stick one of them yellow tickets on the windscreen, inside saying, you better pay up if you know what’s good for yer.’

Del: ‘See there is some grey matter behind the sailor’s cap. Well, I’m fairly sure ol’ DVLA might not want to deal with us proto-parking titans at the moment. So, I reckon if I slip Tessa the local traffic warden a pony, she should be able to furnish us with the names and address of the errant punters.’

Rodney: ‘Yeah, and then what? You’ll be sending out proper letterheads with a request for said payment. You need computers, programmes, admin bods. And then they might just ignore the letters. A bit out of our league don’t you agree Del.’

Del: ‘I may have misunderestimated the investment levels. Early days, early days. You’ve got to plant an acorn to catch a mackerel Rodders. No, if Tessa gets us the info, and their gaff is a London Borough way, I’ll get some of the bigger lads from the Monte Club to politely enquire where our parking cash is. They’ll be better at it than a black-hearted bailiff.’

Rodney: ‘Del, running car parks ain’t a stroll down Lewisham High Street. It’s run by professionals, they’re qualified, have policies and procedures, they’ve got a professional body. There are all these practicalities, dealing with security, cameras, providing a safe environment, customer relations, qualified staff, not like me and Popeye here. Procedures, dealing with winter weather, drainage, site inspections, repairs, legalities, I could go on.'

Del: ‘Go on! You’re doing my head in. Let’s go down to Sid’s for a late breakfast.’

Rodney: ‘Right, so I have cured you of your mad dream to solve parking problems in New Cross?’

Del: ‘Au Cointreau. You’ve whetted my appetite for the parking game. I am getting you enrolled for a parking NVQ. Although on your track record that might mean Not Very Quick.’

Rodney: ‘Looks like you and me are going to be in high-viz Albert.’

Del: ‘Rodders, this time next year we’ll be parking millionaires!’
 
Rod Williamson is city services team leader at City of Lincoln Council

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