When you live near certain places, you kind of have to know that certain aspects of those places are going to be a small part of your life. If you’re in the vicinity of a farm or food factory, the odors may waft in the direction of your house. If you live near the train tracks, you might hear the train whistle every now and then. If you live within sight of a highway or even just a busy street, and leave your lights on and curtains open at night, people are going to be able to see inside.
Most of those issues are usually pretty minor and, at worst, are just nuisances (actually, some of them can be kind of nice. There used to be a Merita bread factory off I-4, near downtown Orlando, and you could periodically smell them baking bread as you drove past, on the highway. It was lovely! And oh man, could you imagine living near the Hershey factory in PA?). But sometimes living near a public area can be a much bigger problem. For example…
Zekarias Haile and his family have lived in Woodhouse Park, an area of Wythenshawe, for about 14 years. Considered the southernmost district of Manchester, England, it’s located about 3 miles from Manchester Airport (MAN).
Wythenshawe is a nice area and the Haile family has never had any problems living there. Until one morning Mr. Haile woke up and there was some stranger’s car parked in his driveway, next to his house!
Because the car, a Windward Grey colored (well, coloured – it WAS in the UK) Land Rover Evoque, was blocking the family’s access to their garbage cans and backyard gate (and HELLO, it was IN HIS DRIVEWAY!), Haile called the local police department. He was told they couldn’t do anything because his car, which had been parked on the street that night, wasn’t boxed in.
On-site airport parking prices in the UK are notoriously huge. Parking at Terminal 5 of London Heathrow will cost £67.00 per day – that’s $88.45US. But MAN will set you back £79.99/day – a whopping $105.60US!
Of course, UK airports have off-site places too, just like in the U.S., and those are significantly cheaper. But if you want to park close to the terminal, that’s how their prices run (as a comparison, here in the US, on-site terminal parking runs about $42/day at ORD, $44/day at EWR, and $50/day at LAX. Still not cheap – JAX is only $20/day – but it gives you an idea of what US prices are in comparison to the UK).
Well, apparently there are some unauthorized companies that advertise “valet service” at MAN, and then undercharge the local parking rates. The thing is, they don’t have their own secure place(s) to park those cars – they just “find” spots in local neighborhoods.
Haile thinks that’s who parked in his driveway. He told Manchester Evening News, “A lady who was out the front when it was left told me the driver was wearing a high-viz jacket so I do believe it was one of those companies.”
He added that he was very angry but aside from calling the police, he didn’t do anything about (or to) the car in his driveway. He said he wouldn’t have felt right about it.
The car was parked there on a Thursday night and stayed there for four nights. When the Haile woke up Monday morning, the car was gone.
Says Haile, “My worry now is that, because I couldn’t do anything about it, it will happen again.”
I don’t blame him.
A spokesperson from MAN was quoted as saying:
As well as our own wide range of products, there are many reputable operators that serve Manchester Airport.
We categorically do not condone the practices of rogue operators, including those that falsely imply customers’ cars will be parked in secure locations and whose activities blight surrounding communities.
We have worked closely with council trading standards teams and Greater Manchester Police over many years to combat this, and speak regularly with local councillors and residents about their concerns.
As passenger numbers continue to increase in the wake of the pandemic we will maintain our position on this, working closely with Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Police.
But you can see how much the police do. And MAN’s essentially saying, “Not our problem.”
Meanwhile, readers of the Manchester Evening News had a field day with comments about the incident. Many gave some rather imaginative advice about what he should have done:
- “Post a picture of the offending number plate on facebook I found this very useful in the past.” – Jacmarczacc
- “I would have had it towed to a car park [parking lot] and left to rack up charges.” – Aelonrhiadra
- “I would drag it onto a trailer, set of to motorway bridge near manchester airport, drag it off the trailer on the hard shoulder. and scarper. Or, hammer a few solid potatoes up the exhaust, have two full pallets of bricks plonked to block it in. Film the culprits moving the bricks, and then see how long the engine runs.” – harry1962
- “I would block it in and have multiple cameras with alarm sensors to detect them coming back for it. Secondly, what is wrong in this country with not respecting private property, the local government or parliament should make it illegal to park and block private property. I have lived in UK and US, in the US I can call any tow company and have it removed. The owner will then have to pay multiple fines and the storage fee at the tow company. This problem is easy to fix.” – martyngb
- “Jack it up, take wheels off. £500 to get wheels back.” – Thehangmansnoose
- “Just get a big 4X4 or a commercial and drag it out onto the road with a chain. Leave it obstructing the road. The police and authorities will have it shifted within the hour.” – Jimmyconcrete
- “I would have put it on ebay ‘Come and take any bits you want'” – stoggy
However one reader just commented on Haile’s relatively calm response to the matter:
- “I salute your patience Sir. That car would be a write off if this happened to me.” – SpeakTheTruth
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary