The new Lord Mayor of Chester agrees there should be no double standards after his chauffeur-driven Bentley parked on double yellow lines while he and the Lady Mayoress were attending a civic event.
The Chronicle’s attention was drawn to the presence of the mayoral car and driver on yellow lines at the rear of Chester’s Guildhall about 8.20pm on Thursday (June 4).
It was observed to stay there for at least an hour but may have been there longer after the driver dropped Lord Mayor Cllr Hugo Deynem and his wife Deb, the Lady Mayoress, off at the hall for a social function at 7.30pm.
At one point a CWaC car, often used by parking attendants, drove past but did not stop.
At about 9.20pm the Bentley drove a few yards to park up at the end of an alleyway, again on double yellows, ready to pick the couple up about 10.10pm.
Cllr Deynem, who only became Lord Mayor last month, understands it gives out the wrong impression if the mayoral car is double-parked but explained the dilemma. He says the insurance policy states the driver, who also acts as security, must be close at hand due to the valuable nature of the mayoral chains.
He told The Chronicle: “We shouldn’t have one rule for one and another for another. I agree with that. If I had been in the car at the time I would have asked not to stop on double yellow lines. It was for insurance reasons.”
Cllr Deynem said the Chester Phab (People Have ABilities) event he and his wife attended for both able bodied and disabled people had a ‘fantastic ambience’ with entertainment from the Dee Sign choir made of people with hearing difficulties who dance and sign to music.
The only problem was a power cut confined to the Guildhall but the organisers had managed to draft in emergency lighting suppliers and candles towards the end of the night.
One disgruntled user of the nearby Crowne Plaza leisure club, who wishes to remain anonymous, complained that he had received many parking fines which helped pay for running the mayoral office including the Bentley. He did not believe the mayoral car should be exempt from the same rules.
This is not the first time a double-parked mayoral car has hit the headlines. Back in 2010 then Lord Mayor of Chester Neil Ritchie attended an hour-long event to open the Travelodge, near Fountains roundabout, with the Bentley parked outside on double yellow lines.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s civil enforcement officers issue fines of either £35 or £25, which double if unpaid within 14 days. The authority raised £883,998 in fines from Fixed Penalty Notices in 2013/14 compared with £371,160 during its first financial year of operation (2009/10).
The council’s enforcement policy states: “The council will carry out its duties in a fair, equitable and consistent manner.”
Earlier this year the council introduced a 10-minute grace period but only in parking areas where waiting is already permitted or where parking has been paid for.