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4:42pm on Wednesday, 22nd August, 2012:

Car Park Closed


I went in to the university today to see if anyone had sent me any mail since last week (they hadn't) and to see if work had started on the new car park (it has).

There's a dreadful shortage of car parking spaces on campus and has been for years. If you don't get there early enough during term time, you either have to park on grass (well, mud) or (if you're really unlucky) not park at all. Feeble attempts by the university to brush this off by suggesting that students and staff should walk, cycle or take the bus onto campus have fallen on deaf ears. I don't suppose that the university would care, but when the parents of prospective students visit and find that they can't park, or they can park because spaces have been reserved but the roads are blocked by the cars of people who would ordinarily park there, well, that could actually hurt. Also, rich overseas students who come to the UK and buy a car to drive while they're here not unreasonably want somewhere to park it.

So it is that the powers-that-be finally decided to build a new three-storey car park that will add another 400 spaces to the available total. They capitulated so completely that they even agreed to pay the bribe demanded by Colchester Council for planning permission, to wit £250,000 for a cycle path between Wivenhoe and the university. So, that's good news, right?

Yes, it is good news. However, it would be better news if construction had started in April rather than in the middle of August. The new car park is being built on one of the existing car parks; this means that its 200 spaces will be lost until the car park's 600 spaces become available. The absolute worst time for parking are the months October to February, because there's teaching going on and the weather is lousy. It eases off at Easter when the exams loom and non-revision lectures stop. If you were going to construct a new car park and in so doing lose 200 spaces for 6 months, the smart thing would be to do it over the summer, not over prime "sweet Jesus where can I park?" time.

It is slightly better than I've made out, in that they're going to make some of the old car park that they're storing construction materials and so on available in late October, and in mid-January they'll let people park on the ground floor of the new car park. It's still going to be parking hell for several miserable months, though.

I wonder if I can buy an adaptation for my car so it uses tank tracks instead of wheels?

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Copyright © 2012 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).