IT is the classic Hampshire country town where the locals are more used to a genteel day’s shopping away from the hustle and bustle of the cities.
But the usual peace and quiet of Bishop’s Waltham town centre is being interrupted by an outbreak of parking rage.
There have been so many incidents involving parking that the local wardens are said to be “terrified” by continued abuse.
And according to a councillor, one parking warden has even been the victim of an assault – an allegation refuted by local police.
“Wardens are almost terrified now to say anything because they get abuse,” said Winchester city councillor David McLean, who also told a meeting of some “reports of some fairly savage issues” in the square.
The instances of abuse got so bad that the local beat bobby even accompanied traffic wardens on patrol.
One traffic warden working in the town, who did not want to be identified, told the Daily Echo how he had been verbally abused and threatened with violence.
“You expect a bit of a problem, you don’t expect the nasty abuse,” he said.
Another said she had been sworn at and told to “get a proper job”, but a colleague had been shaken up when threatened before Christmas.
“It made him feel very vulnerable,” she said. “We’re just doing our job, not individually targeting anybody.”
But Debbie Walker, from The Coffee Shop, on the High Street, said that over the last year warden patrols seemed to have been stepped up, from seeing them once a week to every day.
“It’s the relentless pursuit of people,” she said.
“I think people will perceive that they’re being persecuted.”
James Cooper, at Plates PCs, in St George’s Square, said he had seen nothing beyond frustration, but parking was limited and expensive.
He added that he had seen people fined when popping into a shop for a few minutes.
Wardens patrol the town six days a week and have done so for the past two years. Beat officer PC Simon Paulls said he did not believe a warden had been assaulted but a few have been verbally assaulted.
Cllr Barry Nicholson, chairman of the parish council’s highways committee, said: “We do have a parking problem and that’s why we did a review of the yellow lining in the town, because it’s unnecessary in places.”
The parish is waiting to hear back from Winchester City Council, which is responsible for parking enforcement, after the review was presented in November.
A spokesman for the city council said its parking department worked closely with police and it would hope for a quick response and support to an incident.