PLENTY of people have been criticising the council for planning to put up parking charges in the town centre.

Perhaps we’re being too hasty. Perhaps the experts in charge know things we don’t.

Yes, that’ll be it. To ordinary people like us, it seems obvious that increasing the parking charges will lead to disaster, that it’ll take footfall from shops and businesses already struggling with everything from online competition to big-box retail parks with acres of free parking.

If it’s obvious to us, it must have been considered by the senior council folk who came up with the idea, so if they’re carrying on they must be doing so for a good reason.

We can only conclude there’s been some sort of top-secret study proving things most of us reckon would knacker trade are in fact highly beneficial.

Maybe it’s a bit like in that old British film about the RAF trying to break the sound barrier – the bit where the hero discovers that pushing the stick forward at supersonic speed points the plane up instead of down.

I suspect that anybody trying that in real life would end up splattered over several acres, but it’s the principle of the thing.

Now is the time for us all to help the folk in charge by suggesting other measures they might try, and the more counter-intuitive the better.

If raising the parking charges is a good thing for footfall, there must be plenty of other measures along similar lines which will be even more helpful.

Maybe we could get somebody to promise a load of shiny new buildings, entice the public with a slew of exciting computer-generated images – and then not deliver for years on end.

As icing on the cake, the non-existent development might be given an obscure name most people can’t make head or tail of.

While they’re at it, the folk in charge shouldn’t worry too much about empty shop fronts. Instead of making it easier for new tenants to move in and add vibrancy and life, they should simply put up boards with life-size pretend shops painted on them, so passers-by are momentarily excited and then thoroughly disappointed.

If some or all of these measures are already in place, I apologise for mentioning them.

I didn’t mean to suggest that anybody in authority doesn’t know what they’re doing. I just wanted to show my support, and salute their courage in taking measures which we unenlightened masses might think would be more of a hindrance than a help.

I’m sure that if the hike in parking charge goes ahead it will result in a massive boom in trade.

On no account will it make a worrying number of shoppers think: “To hell with this for a game of soldiers – I’m going online/to a retail park/to Bristol/to Reading/to anywhere else.”

It’s just as well that no shoppers will react in this way, of course, as that would make people who care about the town and its prosperity very angry indeed.

Some might even call for, say, the ones who made the decision to be replaced by life-sized cardboard drawings of people with a clue.

Beware... there are all sort of scammers

THERE has been a bit of a plague of scammers recently.
In one especially distressing case, criminals first got a householder’s details by pretending to be from her phone company and offering a refund. 

Later they called and pretended to be from her bank, claiming there was suspicious activity in her account and having her transfer her funds into a supposedly safe account which was in reality controlled by the crooks.
The scammers are undoubtedly skilled in deception, but we can help to keep ourselves safe if we remember a few points.

For example, telephone companies do not tend to call and offer refunds. They tend instead to phone, usually at highly inconvenient times, and try to chisel more cash from customers’ wallets by offering special deals which turn out to be nothing of the sort, and new equipment which is nowhere near as good as the stuff we’ve got.

In addition, banks only occasionally attempt to alert customers to suspicious activity. Mostly they don’t raise so much as a peep while the crooks get away with the cash - and then accuse the victims of being at fault.

Internet service providers do not call customers to warn them about viruses. Rather, they spend much of their time devising ways to advertise their service as super-fast when in fact it has all the get up and go of a stoned slug.     
Oh, and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs doesn’t telephone people and tell them they owe some extra taxes which must be paid in gift vouchers. 

They just take the cash out of our bank accounts, even if we don’t actually owe anything and it’s all a big mistake by some unsackable functionary who can only count to 20 by taking his shoes and socks off.