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POLICE were caught on camera illegally parking on grass verges while they went to buy a takeaway.
Officers left two cars on the torn-up turf in Carden Avenue, Patcham, and resident Kevin Dove saw them in the Uncle Sam’s fast food restaurant across the road.
The verge has long been abused by motorists leaving their vehicles on it.
Signs were recently put up along the road’s grass space warning drivers to keep their cars off it.
There is no more than 20 yards between each sign all the way along Carden Avenue, including one in front of where the police parked.
Mr Dove, 41, was buying his dinner in Fins and Grill next door when he spotted the officers in the takeaway at around 7.30pm last Saturday.
He said: “I saw four or five of them in Uncle Sam’s and one of them was walking out with a burger.
“How can they enforce laws if they don’t abide by it?
“It’s unfair on people who park there and get a ticket but they don’t.
“I bet they won’t get a ticket.”
Mr Dove, who grew up in Patcham and lives on High Farm in Ditchling Road, sympathised with the officers in some respects but said they should know the rules of the road.
He said: “I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed to have burger and chips.
“They need to have dinner.
“But they should leave someone in the car and let one of their colleagues go and get their food.
“They should know the rules.”
Traffic wardens are now sent to the area and if cars are caught on the verges, drivers face a £70 penalty charge from Brighton and Hove City Council.
Mr Dove said: “If they are doing a job they can park where they want.
“But it ruins the grass and it’s dangerous parking there because people are always stepping out into the road from there and they can’t see.”
Sussex Police has confirmed the officers were parked on the verges so they could buy food.
Inspector Paul Ransome said: “The officers have been identified and I can confirm that they had stopped for refreshments.
“This is unacceptable and we have taken appropriate action, advising them and all local officers.”
On Tuesday, Insp Ransome said they were looking to identify the officers involved and would make sure they “abide by the restriction”.
Stop destroying our grass areas
TORY councillors have gone one step further to try to stop motorists destroying the grass verges any further.
City councillor Lee Wares was joined by Geoffrey and Carol Theobald, all members for the Patcham ward, to hang a placard as a further warning to keep people off the part which has been hit hardest.
The placard reads: “Stop parking on the verge and ruining our community.”
Cllr Wares worked hard to make it an offence to park on the grass in Carden Avenue, Patcham, because he thinks it had got out of hand.
He said: “The problem has become an extreme issue. It has been like it for several years now.
“The problem is that the message isn’t getting across.
“We are trying to raise awareness that it is illegal to park on the verges.”
Cllr Wares said the long-term aim was to restore the verge, which has been reduced to a large patch of mud.
Some of it is so badly affected by cars parking on it that there is a crater which becomes flooded when it rains.
Slabs from the kerb next to the site are coming loose.
Cllr Wares, of Hollingbury and Patcham ward, said he and his colleagues want to make the verges more pleasant.
Although there are dozens of signs along Carden Avenue warning drivers not to park on the grass, drivers have continued to do it.
Cllr Wares insists people must pay for their actions. He said: “These schemes are only successful if there is a punishment.
“There is a fixed penalty notice if they are caught parking there.
“Enforcement officers will ensure the rules are enforced.”
Cllr Wares said the damage was a danger to other road users as well as those committing the parking offence.
He said: “When it is really wet, as people try to pull out quickly they spin their wheels and go into a fast stream of traffic.
“It puts mud into the road and makes it harder for people to stop for the pedestrian crossing which is just past the mud.”
The three councillors told The Argus residents are still extremely concerned by the damage done to the verges, a problem which stretches back five years.
Mrs Theobald said: “It looks disgusting. It is an awful mess and it has been going on for too long, nearly five years.
“We get a lot of residents upset about it. They wonder why nothing has been done about it.”
Mr Theobald mooted the possibility of having temporary road block posts in to put an end to the parking and give the land time to recover.
He said the state of the patch makes people think it is a parking space and posts would make people sure they are not allowed to park there.
A motorist who pulled up on the verge shortly after the new sign was put up was unrepentant.
He said: “There’s nowhere else to park.”
Source: The Argus