OK, we all hate parking attendants. But Sweden has some of the worst. We parked outside a Co-op store in Enskede yesterday, in a bay that was marked as free for an hour’s parking; were away – shopping – for perhaps 20 minutes; only to return and find a ticket on our windscreen demanding 900 kronor – that’s nearly £100 in imperial money – for an entirely legal and very short stay. Apparently we should have put one of those cardboard clock things behind the windscreen indicating when we had arrived. We – or rather Kajsa; I just stood there swearing – remonstrated with the parking attendant, but she wouldn’t give way. So we’re going to be £100 down not for breaking the law, but for not proving that we’d not broken it. There’s no appeal. We’re determined not to pay; but in that case they apparently put it into the hands of a debt collecting agency, who can come round to our house and seize ‘property to the value of…’, and put a stop on our bank accounts.
The land we parked on was apparently not the Co-op’s property, but privately owned. It was the owner who was using an organisation called ‘Aimo Park’ to squeeze money from it, at – as we found to our literal cost – exorbitant rates. I must say it looks like an ideal way to make loadsamoney: find a bit of land near a shop, don’t bother to add any ‘value’ to it, and charge people through the noses for merely stopping on it. Quite apart from the size of the fine demanded: whatever happened to the rule of law and the ‘presumption of innocence’? Or don’t they have that in Sweden?
And how can this be allowed in ‘social democratic’ Sweden? Shouldn’t parking be a public responsibility? Even if municipalities are allowed to farm it out to private capitalists, shouldn’t there be limits to the amount the latter can fine people; and some sort of appeal process to protect the innocent?
Yes, trivial, I know. But — FFS – SEK 900 for not breaking the law! – Well, at least it provided a momentary distraction from all the far worse things going on in the world today. To which I hope to return…