The Van Diaries

I’ve had enough. It’s gonna stop and I am going to be the cop that stops it. Now a lot of my advisors are saying “Let the story die, don’t keep talking about it.” Look, I don’t care what uninformed people think about me… I’m coming to your house.

Bill O’Reilly

Van hire companies and van drivers in the area are treating Brockley’s streets and communities with contempt. Van hire companies are using roads that are supposed to be our commercial thoroughfares and residential streets as a parking lot for their growing fleet of vehicles. Van drivers generally park on pavements, yellow lines and in the middle of the road without fear of getting a ticket. And because no-one is doing anything about these problems, they are getting worse.

Initially, it was just Brockley Cross and the roads leading in to it that were used as a dumping ground by van hire companies. Increasingly, it is Coulgate Street, where the vans take up parking near the station and shops and ruining the look of the closest thing Brockley has to a town centre – a place that the community has worked hard to improve by planting a community garden where Council contractors had left a barren slope strewn with rubbish and fag ends.

Something can be done. Often, the vehicles are illegally and dangerously parked – proper parking enforcement in the area would address the worst abuses. The D&M Office was established without planning permission and if the Council was minded to challenge the company, they could do so and force them to relocate somewhere where they can use a parking lot, like reputable companies do.

We’ve contacted Lewisham Council to ask them if they will take action but we were told recently that following a visit to the area by Council inspectors, they did not see a large number of vans and therefore don’t believe that there is a problem.

Given that there are approximately a dozen large removal vans parked in and around Brockley Cross on a daily basis, it’s astounding that the Council can’t see them – god knows where they looked. However, they’ve said that if we want to keep a diary of the problem, they will consider it as evidence and consider whether action should be taken by them.

So, we propose to use this thread as an open diary, to which everyone can contribute. If vans are parked on your road, please post the details, with time, date, road name and company. We’ll be doing the same. A couple of weeks’ worth of entries should be enough to show the Council that there is a real issue they need to address. You can also tag photos on Twitter with the hashtag #bxvans

The photo above was taken on a weekday morning last week and includes an illegally parked van on Brockley Road, as well as a wall of vans on Coulgate Street. BCer Nick took a very similar shot of Coulgate Street this morning, showing how persistent the problem is.

Thanks in advance for your help with this. We'll send the details to the Council at this time in a fortnight.

UPDATE: Here's another example of a van, dangerously parked in Brockley Cross. Warnings about icy roads were no deterrent. Note, the problem isn't just van the hire companies, but a whole range of companies that know they can park illegally with impunity. The van was parked on the pavement and at the entrance to "one of Lewisham's busiest intersections" (TM Lewisham Council) for several hours during a week day.

UPDATE: Here's another choice specimen from a couple of weeks back. A van parked (don't let the fact that the lights were on fool you - it was parked, empty, for at least half an hour) with its arse hanging out in to the road in the middle of the night.

UPDATE: Here's a real beauty taken at 6.30pm today. A D&M van sticking out from Coulgate Street into Brockley Road. There were three illegally parked vans on Brockley Cross and Coulgate Street this evening, when we got home - all from D&M. We'll add the other two to our collection.

UPDATE: This is the last photo we're going to post on this thread, because we are depressing ourselves. It's almost as if the van hire companies have redoubled their efforts in response to this piece. Seven vans on Coulgate Street this morning (Feb 2nd) and two more in Brockley Cross. Film crews use fewer vehicles than this and they have to apply for special permits. This also shows that the van hanging dangerously in to Brockley Road was there all night. Photo courtesy of Nick.