Village resident demands refund after car towed ‘without warning’ during Wickham Horse Fair

AN ANGERED village resident has demanded a refund from Winchester City Council after his car was towed ‘without warning’ during Wickham Horse Fair. Calum Taberner, 25, thought thieves had made off with his Land Rover Discovery after he returned from work to find it missing on Friday, May 20 – the day Wickham welcomed back scores of travellers for the first full instalment of the historic fair since 2019. But instead it was one of 13 cars impounded from Buddens Road as part of a temporary traffic regulation order (TTRO) in force on the day.

The city council has said the closure was communicated with residents ‘well in advance’ of the event. However, Mr Taberner insisted there was just one graffitied sign at the opposite end of the street from where the cars were taken. He says residents also fell foul of parking before the ‘no waiting’ cones were put in place – just hours before the first vehicle was impounded at 7am – with some waking up for work to find their car had already gone.

Mr Taberner has since called for the total sum of GBP1,950 trousered by the enforcement company to be returned to those who live in the surrounding roads. “Many residents have been caught out due to a complete lack of information,” he said. “The cones went up less than 24 hours before, and no signage was present in the immediate area of the towing.

I don’t think this is either fair or legal. I came home to find my vehicle missing and had to pay GBP150 for it to be released, not to mention the stress of thinking my car had been stolen before eventually tracking down someone who even knew the TTRO was in affect. All the vehicles seized were at the very end of the street.

It’s a long road which takes about five to ten minutes to walk down and there was one A4 bit of paper on a lamppost which mentioned the road closure. It had been graffitied. Even if it hadn’t been, I don’t think that’s adequate notice.”

After speaking with fellow residents on the day, Mr Taberner, of Station Road, tracked down the police Sargeant responsible for actioning the towings. Church Commissioners set to beef up security at Bushfield Camp on the edge of Winchester after ‘convoy’ of travellers force entry to the site “I spoke with someone called Sargeant Owen who told me I should be aware of it as it ‘happens every year’, but I’ve only been here for just over two years and the fair has been cancelled,” he said.

“He also informed me leaflets had been sent to houses on Buddens Road only, and not surrounding roads, meaning myself and others were completely in the dark without any reasonable way of knowing about the road closure. The attitude I have received from the constabulary is that you should ‘just know’, but unfortunately, this isn’t the world we live in, there are regulations to follow surrounding this. “The council said the police tried to contact everyone registered to the cars before taking them away, but one resident had to pay the GBP150 for them to let it down from the truck while it was still outside of his house.

“It just seems residents have been punished over a horse fair, which quite frankly, is questionable whether the people of Wickham still want it. “There were horse boxes and cars with Irish plates parked all over the grass verges – so why weren’t they towed? Whether there were cones there or not, it is still illegal.”

Mr Taberner has complained to both Hampshire Police and Winchester City Council, with parking chiefs currently yet to decide whether he’ll be reimbursed for the ordeal. A city council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the road closures relating to Wickham Horse Fair were communicated with residents and the public well in advance of the event. There were advance notices and letters to residents, no waiting cones along the road and reminders on the council’s social media channels.

The towing of vehicles was organised by Hampshire Constabulary as vehicles were causing an obstruction along the diversion and bus route. The police attempted to contact all vehicle owners before deciding to remove them.” Message from the editor

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