Melissa Kite Melissa Kite

Real Life | 18 July 2009

Badge of honour

One of my enduring preoccupations is that somehow, some day, I will figure out a way to ‘beat the system’.

Every now and then I get a little spurt of ‘system-beating’ activity when a particular injustice I am fighting — I have several dozen on the go at any one time — comes to a head. My efforts with one such issue reached fever pitch a few weeks ago when I had a flash of inspiration on the subject of my residential parking permit, which was up for renewal.

They put the price up from £60 to £130 and I was not going to take it lying down. Obviously, the most effective way to win this battle would be to convince the entire population of the London borough in which I live to join me in the mass civil disobedience of not renewing our permits together. If tens of thousands of us all refused to buy a permit this year on the basis that a more than 100 per cent increase in the cost of parking outside our house was undemocratic, unjust, exploitative and downright fraudulent, then Lambeth Council would be powerless to do anything but back down and reduce the cost.

Here’s the science: a few minutes’ walk to the much nicer next-door borough of Wandsworth, the permits are half that cost, and over the river in Kensington and Chelsea, where residents surely enjoy a pleasanter set of amenities still, the permits are cheaper again. You see? I’m not some tetchy middle-class girl who moved to South London and got all uppity about Lefties raising taxes. Oh no. I’m fighting for the People, man. The only problem with my strategy was that I could not think of a way to talk even my next-door neighbour into joining the resistance, never mind the whole borough.

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