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the other use of parking meters

I’m sure you’ve seen the news a couple of weeks back about the latest German invention. In Bonn, the old West German capital the city council introduced parking meters for prostitutes in an attempt to tax the world’s oldest profession. The ticket will be around £5.30 per night and like real parking meters it just has to be valid for a certain time – 8.15pm to 6am Monday to Sunday respectively.

After reading this story two things came immediately to my mind. Despite the fact that this is a German machine it looks very inefficient to me if you run it just during evening and night hours. And the second fact is that there are many other groups where similar tax issues apply.

Now we will have a look at London and I’d like to bring your attention to all the street artists in town. If you take the London Eye or Covent Garden you will find always 7 or more actors, singers and other entertainers in the area. They always attract large crowds and are brilliant to entertain tourists. But alongside the crowd thieves arrive and as soon as the event is over you will find the place dirty because people forgot their coffee cups or sandwich wrap. In that case the council gets higher costs of providing extra security staff and street cleaning. Could they introduce parking meters to save costs and share the costs of running such small street events?

I think the concept has lots of benefits. First of all it works like pay as you go. If the street artist can’t work on one day he doesn’t get charged. The second benefit is that those meters are easy to install or might be in use somewhere already. So maybe in London we could use TfL ticket machines to provide the service. Another advantage is that either police or ticket inspectors take care of ticket validation. Since councils or government bodies employ them anyway extra hiring costs don’t appear and synergy effects to their current work should apply.