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British Telecom's Urban Depots

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The BT van invasion

Our correspondent writes ...

The more I drive round my local streets, the more I get the feeling that I am driving through a British Telecom transport depot. Their vans are everywhere.

At first I thought it meant a lot of people were having telephones installed or serviced but a pattern emerged showing the same vans on the same streets at most times of the day or night.

I think parked vans have a sort of tone-lowering effect on many residential streets. Not just because they are there, but often because they are not parked outside the houses where the drivers actually live. The drivers seem to prefer to leave them outside someone else's house.

Of course, it's not just BT causing the problem. Often the vans are ex-BT and are now owned by self-employed builders, plasterers, electricians, and other tradesmen. But they are still identifiable and one thing is for certain: they often make progress hazardous by obstructing the view of other road users.

I can understand why tradesmen have to keep their vans at home but surely large companies like BT could do more to ensure their vehicles did not cause annoyance to ordinary people who would prefer not to have their street scene blocked by a damned great van.

Or is it that BT like to use their parked vans to help recruit new employees. It must be a great incentive to know that joining BT means you will only work a very small number of hours each day.

City Link also ...

Regarding the proliferation of commercial vans in residential streets, we and our neighbours are obliged to look at a lurid green and yellow City Link van for days at a time, it's right outside our houses in a road where no other vehicles are parked.

Complaints to City Link have been totally ignored and polite requests to the driver have only met with confrontation and abuse.

The vehicle is not even parked outside the driver's house. It's not even in his sightline so they don't have to look at it. It's there all weekend and some evenings.

So much for neighbourliness and so much for consideration from a big national company. Anon, Devon

Editorial Comment:

The worst thing about this problem is that these big national companies don't give a damn! City Link's website talks about One Company, One Vision but it doesn't mention One Big Parking Lot - right on your doorstep.
I had a similar situation some years ago when a new family moved into our road. As a result, I suddenly had a really tatty van belonging to Greenwich Council parked right outside my house. I was furious because the driver lived further up the other side of the road. He clearly didn't want to see the van outside his lounge window but didn't worry about neighbours' reactions or feelings.
I complained to him and was told 'he could park where he liked'. I telephoned Greenwich Council and was told 'their employee could park where he liked'. So I tried an official approach in writing and gave a copy to the driver. After reading it, he banged on my front door and called me a "f**king w***ker!" Nice way to make yourself popular with your new neighbours. After that, his wife started mouthing obscenities from across the road.
When you've lived in a road full of really nice people for many years and you suddenly find the newly-arrived family consists of foul-mouthed yobs, it comes as a bit of a shock, and that's without having a bloody big work van parked outside your lounge window.
Time for different tactics, I thought. I rang Greenwich Council again. Same answer: He can park where he likes. So I told them I could not see why I had to stare at their tatty van for up 17 hours a day and all through weekends. Whoosh!! What a difference that made.
They asked if two members of their Fraud Department could come to see me. No problem, I told them.
When they arrived, they wanted to know if I had seen their employee unloading stolen goods from the van. I hadn't, so I said no. However, they already knew that some of the building materials used in matey's massive house extension had originally belonged to Greenwich Council so my problem ended very quickly. The large van disappeared and was never seen again.
I can't guarantee this would work with BT or City Link but you never know. These companies don't mind one of their employees upsetting his neighbours if it's saving them the cost of running and manning an overnight parking depot, but if they think the employee is short-changing them by not doing a full day's work, that's an entirely different matter

Visitors' Comments

RCC, Morden, Surrey writes:

Glad to see I am not the only one that thinks BT vans are a "Blot on The Landscape". We regularly have 10-12 vans parked on the road, some back to back, where more than one member of the family works for BT. Some vehicles do not move for days on end - must be good job they have.
I reported the 12 vans, that are driven by residents of the avenue where I live, to BT Fleet Management. They referred me to BT BT as they only supply the vehicles. I was asked to obtain the numbers of the vehicles, and told they would be moved. This is too easy I thought, sure enough, BT came back to me to inform me that the drivers are residents of the avenue, and if the vehicles are taxed and parked in the road, there was nothing I could do. The fact that I have a cable telephone system didn't go down too well either.
Keep us advised of any progress that you make.

SA, London writes:

I pay my road tax, parking permit, insurance and I have a driving licence. I park my van legally - sometimes outside my house; sometimes not. I like and respect my neighbours but I would say f**k any neighbour who dictates to me.
I think our friend at the top of forum lives with his or her head firmly up his or her backside.

VB, Surrey writes:

These vans are earning the drivers a living, and often supporting a family. They have to be parked!!
My husband has a very clean, well-maintained white van. He always tries to park with consideration to our neighbours but still gets letters asking us to park elsewhere. How neighbourly is that? Some people just have too much time on their hands and have nothing better to do. Maybe they should get their own van and get a few days work to fill their time.
If we are parked legally and not obstructing your view or light, then mind your own business. I apologise if it does not fit perfectly into your pretty street. That I think is often the problem.

Steven, London writes:

Vehicles of less than 5 ton gross weight can be parked in residential areas overnight, sad to say. The problem is these vans are getting ever bigger, as large as small lorries. Sprinter vans are an example. I think the dimensions of these vans, Winnebagos and the like ought to be part of the parking bylaws in residential areas. This said, I believe there are restrictions on commercial vehicles and running businesses in residential areas ... if only local authorities cared to enforce them.

LR, Dartford writes:

I run a small business and have a small van. As I live by a railway station, I would love to park outside my own home on returning from work but at times I have to park quite a distance away, sometimes in another road. This is due to people who travel to work by train, not returning till after 7pm but parking their cars anywhere they can. I am sure if I parked outside their homes they would get the hump. Once I have parked I have to unload various goods and transport to home as I am sure lots of other traders do.

Editorial Comment:

I'm sure everyone appreciates the problems for sole traders who have a van and will not object to such vehicles being parked in residential roads so long as they try to park outside their own properties. But large companies with multiple vehicles should provide their own overnight parking facilities at their own depots.

DP, Newcastle writes:

There is a Virgin Telecom van in our street, and the driver likes to park in front of anyone's house but his own. When asked if he would shift it from our house and park at his own door, he replied that he would park it where he 'damn well wants to'.
Every house-buyer selects a home for its position relating to their requirements, one of which is the view we look at - and the last thing we want is a glaring advert for some company outside our window for much of the time we are at home i.e.. all weekend and for the duration of holiday periods. We also have visitors coming to the house, our grandchildren and all the family - and they have to park as near as they can to us, and not outside our door.
This driver has been quite nasty to several of the residents in our street so one of us wrote to his employer and complained. This resulted in a visit to his home from a manager of the company, who was told all the facts of every incident from this driver (and there are quite a few). The van was taken off him and he had to find his way to the depot every morning without it, and get home from the depot without it. Why couldn't he have been considerate and just stayed at his own door? If he had, maybe there would have been no problems for us and him!
I still believe that commercial vehicles should not be allowed in residential streets, as they are a risk to children. Employers! Keep all your vans in a depot! We don't want them in our streets!

SMcC, London writes:

I am a building contractor who has paid a small fortune for a house in a residential road in west London so if I have paid my mortgage, my taxes, my permit and road tax why should I not be able to park my van as any other person? If one of these people have a leak in their roof they are happy for a van to appear and sort their roof out. It's strange. When it suits them it's ok for a van to be in their road and they think its ok to have an old car in the road which is not a pretty sight. If they don't like it they should go and buy a nice house with a private road so they are away from the public and if they can't afford it then why are they stuck up there own arses?

MG, Nuneaton writes:

I too have a BT engineer living in my street. He parks his van outside anyone's house (which ok is legal) but he has a garage where he puts his motorbike. He parks his car outside his own window and the van just where he fancies. He uses the van just to go to the corner shop for a pint of milk.
I do not want to look out on a BT van all day and night.
Not sure what BT working hours are but the van never or very rarely moves. I guess he is frightened someone will pinch "his" space.
Why can't these people go to work in their own cars, pick up their work's van at the depot and return it there each evening the same as other workmen do? Something needs to be done to protect other people. These employees are just inconsiderate morons.

ND, Down writes:

Get over it! I can see all sides of the argument here, but really, don't we all have something better to do with our time? I'm more concerned with things like global warming and government surveillance than the aesthetics of a parked van. I am motivated to make this post because I am angered by the sheer stupidity and pettiness of every poster on this page. We should all be concerned with fighting serious crime and protecting our civil liberties ... not this.

Editorial Comment:

We deal with issues that people raise and this is just one of many, including the major issues that you mention. It's hardly a case of stupidity or pettiness that people are irritated by the arrogant and selfish actions of their neighbours and no doubt those same people are equally concerned about covert government surveillance. All these issues are ingredients of the dire state of this country.

Dave Markham, Poynton writes:

It is not good enough to say you pay your taxes and insurance and have an attitude of 'I'll park where I like do what I like'. There are too many in the world with that attitude. Surely the kind of attitude we should have is to respect other people and consider their feelings ... it's called good neighbourly behaviour. Who would want to buy a house next to, or opposite, one with a huge van parked outside?
If I wanted to look at vans I'd move to an industrial estate which, in my view, is where they should be parked. Ether that or a local council car park. Anywhere but in residential roads. Residential roads are for residents and their vehicles, not for business and business vehicles. I expect to look out of my front window and see another house opposite not a huge van with Joe Bloggs Garden Services written across it. So, trades people, have some consideration and respect or should I go out and buy a huge great van and park it right outside your window while you are away? What did you say? well tough! I'll park my van right outside your window if I like. Oh, and be careful not to knock the wing mirror  - it's taken me ages to set it up right.

Calum Scouller, Renfrew writes:

These vans are an eyesore and although my street isn't as bad as some of you have commented on in this forum the fact that these vans are on the street instead of their driveways. Restricting the view of motorists is selfish.
I think there should be a law against commercial vans in residential areas or at least restrict it to small vans with no livery. Companies should have their own parking areas for these vehicles. They save money by allowing staff to take these vans/trucks home, by not having to insure them at their premises or building a secure place to park. They bring down the look of where you stay and inevitably the house price. These company vans are using your road as a free advertisement and can be very unsightly.  I sympathise with self employed individuals but I think that they should only be allowed a commercial vehicle with livery if it's parked in their drive and not on the street.

'Annoyed', Bishopbriggs writes:

I live in a U shaped street and a family opposite my drive have 5 vehicles between them despite the fact there are only 4 of them and one I am sure is not old enough to drive. A large transit van gets parked on my side of the street every night and all weekend and is within about an inch of my driveway which means that I can see nothing when I try to drive out. All the cars which come up the street have to dodge past this family's 2 cars that are on the road and transit van. It's not a case of wanting to keep the street looking pretty as suggested by one obvious van driver. It is downright dangerous trying to get in or out and is an accident waiting to happen.

Zebulon Dread, Brighton writes:

I think this argument should be rolled out across vehicles of a specific size and not specific type. So get all your people carriers, 4x4's and estate cars off the streets too ... or you could all move to one of the colonies like The Falklands where you will hardly see another soul, let alone vehicle.
You could even move to the country as it seems white van man has over-populated the cities. What is interesting about your debate is that many drivers or owners of the alleged problem cars seem quite fond of using quality English like "arse", f*ck", "w*nker" etc. This clearly shows the mentality you're dealing with! Ah well, time for me to go back home to where white van man doesn't even venture.

Michael Rumsey, Waltham Cross writes:

How small minded we have become! I would love to park outside my house but the authorities would tow my car away immediately. The roads are too small for everybody to park outside their own house and as it has been pointed out already, it's a public road. It is not owned by the adjoining house. 'Get over it and get a life!'

Ben, Farnborough writes:

And it's going to get worse!! Royal Mail are doing away with bikes and replacing them with vans, WHICH employees will be able to take home due to lack of parking at their offices.

Jay Mitchell, Glasgow writes:

are you kidding with this we live in a very quiet cul-de-sac with a very small amount of parking but its first come first served we have a driveway etc. for 6 cars/van etc. my neighbours all have cars we have 3 cars and a crew van for my disabled relative and i have to park that outside but on here you don't want to see any vans outside your house etc. you should grow up and be concerned with better things than that we need our van i can see the point if its a old van etc. full of rust but we all need to make a living and if i have bought my house and have my own land etc. own my dropped curb etc. due to the fact there is no pavement etc. i will park it outside my house if i should so wish if you don't own your home go to the council etc. but they will tell you if its there land or mot and insured taxed etc. then not there problem if its parked over your derive etc. go to the police but please remember without trucks and van you get nothing if we all gave up trucks and vans there would be no fuel no ambulances fire trucks police vans delivery vans no food so please get a reality check if its parked on a road that's adopted by the local council etc. and they have tax mot insurance etc. there is nothing you can do about it except on my street i own the road its unadopted and my house was built first and i have a neighbour like you that thinks he can tell me what to do when he needs to use my private road to get to his house etc. he has no access rights etc. as we sold him some land and he decided to build two houses etc. but forgot or just ignored who owns the street etc.. my land i can do what i like

Dave Watt of Northampton writes:

Firstly, If you were given the choice of a daily 25 mile trip to a works depot in your own car with your own petrol, or in a van using diesel courtesy of the company to your first job, what would you choose?

Secondly, the vehicle owners pay ROAD TAX, for it to be driven and parked on the ROAD, no matter where it be. I have had neighbours moan at me on many occasions under some delusion that I purposely park outside their house! Why would I do that when it only means a longer walk for me to carry tools etc. I'm sure it's everyone's wish to park as close as possible to their own house, but that's not always possible.

Also people seem to forget how much vans actually do for the logistics of society, people should be glad that most people that use a van to earn a living are performing a service for the country as opposed to those that don't bother to go out and get a job.

What is it with all this NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) bol**cks that today's society seems to have invented, far too many curtain twitchers picking faults with law-abiding citizens.

Editorial Comment:

Is use of the company vehicle as a private means of transport saving you the expenses that the rest of us have to pay?

Jim Toms of Cornwall writes:

I live in a fairly new housing estate and a large vehicle of at least 5 tonnes permanently parks opposite my drive. It makes access to my drive difficult and makes visibility a problem for all drivers on the estate. The vehicle is used by the house opposite for personal use as they transport quad bikes to events every few weeks but the rest of the time it is a permanent fixture of my estate.

I understand that commercial vehicles over 5 tonnes can't be kept on residential roads at night but as it is for personal use I do not know if the same rules apply. Apart from the access issues it is an eyesore and looks far too big for the estate. Think twice the size of a BT van and you get an idea!

Lewy of Canterbury writes:

The Highway Code section 250 (Parking and Waiting) clearly states it is illegal for an unladen commercial vehicle to be parked on a restricted road (30 mph) at night without lights on it. If a van parks on the road at night with no lights the keeper of that vehicle is breaking the Highway Code, Road Vehicle lighting regs and the construction and use regs.

I have had a problems with vans in my road and have been informed by the traffic police this rule may have changed. It now looks like commercial vehicles over 2.5 ton gross weight are not allowed to park on the road at night, I'm trying to find the new legislation.

Richard Jeffries of Montreal, Canada writes:

As an ex-BT employee from the 80's I would have loved the chance to meet some of your contributors. Obviously they are all short of something to do .... perhaps they should try train spotting.

Editorial Comment:

Better still, if all the irritating BT drivers who had no thought for their neighbours all emigrated to Canada, the problem would be solved. And BT might discover they didn't really need all these people who appear to be at home for most of the working day.

CRB of Chatham writes:

I come home from work every night after midnight but can't park outside my house, or even in my own street, because of ignorant people who drive these vans who take up two parking spaces but don't even live in my road. they are a**seholes!

Tracy Lockett of Mossley writes (on 27/12/2011):

Well I own two houses on same street - one is my Mother's. We have a parking space painted out by the council in front of my Mother's as my stepfather was disabled and so am I. I don't drive but need a taxi from my door to get out at times. An elderly relative who is totally crippled visits with her husband once a fortnight and can barely walk even aided.

Thank you to Speed Couriers ( who have screwed up their Boxing Day due to the fact they parked slap bang in that space and left their van there - wherever they may live. There were many other places available on the street at the time so hat's off to their consideration. If you see a parking slot when the rest of the road doesn't have one I would have thought common sense told you it was there for a reason. Well I wouldn't be using that company for anything given the ignorance of the drivers!

Editorial Comment:

I sympathise entirely. As a blue badge holder I am frequently annoyed by the number of able-bodied people who park in disabled bays. It may be that they are severely dyslexic and think the wording says, "Special parking for lazy bastards!" but I think the truth is they are totally arrogant and couldn't care less.

Tim Linsell of Colchester Area writes:

Ok BT service isn't great but a BT Van owner who lives next door to me needs to be fired as i am being harassed by him with his over-sized van that he illegally parks on my driveway.
Not only that, he has hit me in his van and has now resorted to stealing rubbish bins. What a fool as i now have cctv and will send this onto his line manager and the police. What a dick!

Lee of Chelmsford writes:

I also have a van outside, which makes getting out of my driveway pretty difficult. I do not have a problem with the vans parking outside if the road is busy. I do have an issue when they do so, to park away from their own house, especially when there is plenty of room there.
I note the comment above moving tools etc, but BT van drivers do not do this ... everything is left in the van.
I never have a problem with the sole traders of the world, just large national companies using the law to get cheap parking without purchasing yards, etc. I wonder how much the BT bills are increased with the vans driving to and from the home, where this wouldn't happen via a central yard?
So to clarify, I have an issue with Large National Companies, not the independent sole trader.

"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill

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