Driving in Portsmouth is unpleasant at the best of times. Parking in the city is an utter nightmare – at any time.
So when in 1999 the then Labour administration at Portsmouth City Council decided to introduce residents’ parking zones we took a sharp intake of breath, crossed our fingers and gave it a cautious welcome.
There’s been nothing but trouble ever since, as many forecast.
Of course, there has been some relief for those living within these zones, many of whom erroneously still believe they have a God-given right to a parking space immediately outside their property.
But where this policy collapses is in neighbouring streets where the restrictions do not apply.
Take the case of Steve Shoesmith, of Bramble Road, Southsea.
His street has no restrictions on it.
As a result it is continuously blocked by non-residents, some of whom leave their vehicles there for days on end.
What we are talking about here are students, those who drive work vans and commuters, usually those heading to London from nearby Fratton station.
The students and van drivers might actually live in the residents-only zone, but they cannot sign up for the scheme because their vehicles are registered at either their parents’ address or that of their employer.
Result: streets such as Bramble Road and countless others are jam-packed with vehicles which do not belong to residents. And Mr Shoesmith has to hunt for somewhere else to park.
As an island city and a tiny one at that, Portsmouth will forever have a parking problem as long as mankind’s love affair with the combustion engine continues.
The city council has now wrestled with this problem for decades and is nowhere near finding a solution.
We sympathise because it is caught between a rock and a parking place. Unsurprisingly it has announced there will be no more because they do not make money.
So, perhaps the time has come to ditch the whole lot and let the city revert to an on-street parking free-for-all.