A council’s chief executive is accused of hypocrisy after he was caught parking his Jaguar on double yellow lines in Canterbury city centre.
Colin Carmichael left his luxury saloon on lines, that were freshly painted by his employer to make it “absolutely clear” parking is not allowed.
Mr Carmichael, who this week extolled the virtues of public transport, was ticketed in North Lane car park near the Westgate Towers. Photographs show his black Jaguar XF parked in an area where the authority has raked in thousands of pounds from drivers parking illegally.
The authority’s chief was then seen returning to the vehicle and peeling a £50 fixed penalty charge notice from the windscreen.
Mr Carmichael, who commands a £130,000 salary, says he has since paid the fine, reduced to £25 for early settlement, and that he is no different from anyone else.
But critics have hit back, saying it will be hard for the council’s most senior officer to escape the charge of hypocrisy. Under his leadership, council officers are advocating the closure of several city centre car parks in order to force drivers into using public transport.
On Monday this week, Mr Carmichael agreed with his assistant director of planning and regeneration, Ian Brown, who said:
“Getting people out of their cars is essential. In other cities people wouldn’t think about driving one-and-a-half miles into the city centre. We need to embrace change.”
He left the vehicle on a stretch of the car park running alongside the River Stour. Last year Canterbury City Council had painted double yellow lines there after it was revealed 423 drivers had been ticketed for parking beyond the bays on that site. At the time, a council spokesman said:
“We are going to paint a double yellow line along the length of the car park next to the riverside path to make it absolutely clear that parking is not permitted there.”
Mr Carmichael would not be drawn on why he had driven into the city centre on Saturday, but he was seen with a large, full Ikea bag, which was empty when he returned to his car. He said:
“I received a penalty charge notice in North Lane car park on Saturday after parking in an area where parking is not allowed. The PCN was correctly issued and I have already paid it. There are no special rules in place just because I am the chief executive. If I receive a PCN, I pay it just like anyone else does.”
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive, of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, condemned the council’s plans to cut back on city centre parking. He said:
“Any initiative to close car parks would not only cause huge inconvenience for local taxpayers, but potentially be counter-productive for the local economy. As far as the council chief executive is concerned, it will be hard for him to escape the charge of hypocrisy.”