I have a habit of using what I call ‘Car Park Philosophy’ to explain how carrot and stick get confused and ultimately transposed.

I’m old enough to remember the days when a car park was seen as a necessary tool to encourage people to use a local amenity.

A spare patch of land was roughly gravelled, fenced off and a shed would be erected at the entrance.

Then an elderly gentleman would be installed in the afore mentioned shed and given a brown overall, where he would collect sixpence from the driver of any vehicle who chose to enter and park up to use the local shops.

The local proprietors would see this car park as encouraging people to use their establishments, and the local authority would see it as providing a service.

If Ted in the Shed went off to lunch and wasn’t around when you turned up in your car, you could park without paying. If he was ill one day, the council couldn’t collect your money, so the facility was free.

It all started to go wrong with the introduction of the ticket machine, which instantly turned the responsibility for the transaction on its head. Now it was the driver’s job to seek out the machine and buy a ticket, rather than the council’s job to offer you the opportunity to pay.

If the machine was out of order, you were expected to find another to complete your business. And it was no good offering the machine a shilling and expecting sixpence back, as you used to do with Ted. You now had the responsibility to have the right change.

Then the charges were made far more variable, with some car parks charging different rates than others. This meant that you never knew the correct change to have available.

Some machines would only accept certain coins, so having sixpence in copper wasn’t going to get you a ticket.

Ted in the Shed’s day would have been when my Dad was the driver, but by the time I had my own driving licence another problem raised its head. The introduction of the new-fangled twenty pence piece was unacceptable tender to a car park ticket machine for months after it first went into circulation.

So you could have a pocket full of change and find it was still impossible to buy a ticket, but it was your responsibility to find a way around the problem.

Dare you leave your car to go to a shop to get the correct coinage?

You placed the ticket on your dashboard and it blew away unnoticed as you shut the door? Your problem.

It seems it is more lucrative for the authorities to fine a driver for not being able to buy a ticket, than it is to put the facility in place for him to do so. Obstacles seem to be put in the way to prevent him buying what he is prepared to.

The humble car park had transmuted from a service that the council provided, to a cash cow that it exploits.

Today it’s amazing how many services seem to have the carrot and the stick reversed, where, as the supposed customer, you are left wondering who is serving who.