BBC Home > BBC News > England

'People power' wins parking fight

19 June 09 15:53 GMT
Ed Davey
BBC News, London

Angry neighbours blocked in a tow truck when traffic wardens tried to remove a car - and "people power" won the day.

Pamela Janson-Smith was incensed when the men "incorrectly" began to remove her son's Renault Clio from outside their home in Lambeth, south London.

Her neighbours used another car to trap the truck, and a heated standoff ensued, until police arrived and ordered the wardens to release the car.

Mrs Janson-Smith called her neighbours' actions "heart-warming".

Angry crowd

The trouble began in Palace Road, Streatham, which was the scene of a massive sewage flood last week.

Many basement flats were submerged in eight feet of effluent and roadworks have been in place ever since.

It means there is no parking space, so cars have been parking in the middle of the blocked-off street.

But on Friday morning traffic wardens tried to tow one of the cars and found themselves surrounded by an angry crowd.

One of Mrs Janson-Smith's neighbours used a Volvo to prevent Lambeth Council's tow truck from leaving.

Eventually seven police officers arrived and ordered the traffic wardens to release the vehicle.

Mrs Janson-Smith said: "These guys would not budge or listen to reason.

"It was so unfair - this street as suffered enough and it was the last straw."

"When the inspector arrived he told them it was pathetic and ordered them to release the car at once - he was wonderful."

She said: "The neighbours were fantastic. The whole street said 'enough is enough' and just stood there - it was really heart-warming."

It is the second angry confrontation in the street in as many weeks.

On 10 June tempers flared as wardens tried to ticket the vehicles of residents in the aftermath of the flood.

Fire crews sent to deal with the sewage flood had to dissuade the wardens.

'Clearly very angry'

Local councillor Jeremy Clyne (Lib Dem) said of the latest row: "When I arrived at the scene there were about 20 people involved in a stand-off.

"They were clearly very angry - in Lambeth there has been a trend of towing cars for very minor offences."

A Metropolitan police spokesman said:"Police were alerted regarding the attempted removal of a vehicle. Members of the public were said to be preventing this.

"An inspector entered into a constructive discussion with parking enforcement staff. They off-loaded the car and the matter was resolved."

A Lambeth Council spokesman said: "This vehicle was dangerously parked right in the middle of a road.

"We respect people's rights to raise concerns but we can't condone action like this. Our crews did absolutely the right thing - people can't take the law into their own hands."

Related BBC sites