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Wimbledon residents cross line by seeking net parking profit


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First it was allegations of match fixing. Then Wimbledon got really dirty.


In SW19 residents have been selling their free parking permits to fans who want to drive to the championships, and the local council is not happy.


The online auction site eBay has been doing a brisk trade in permits, which have been changing hands for about £60. One resident was offering no fewer than 17 permits to drivers trying to avoid paying £25 a day in designated car parks. Others are trying to pass off photocopies as the real thing.


Amid accusations of forgery and foul play, Wandsworth Council, one of two local authorities bordering the tournament buildings, has been forced to reissue parking permits to all 6,000 households in the surrounding area.


In Wimbledon, where houses around the ground sell for upwards of £1 million, the alleged scam has caused quite a stink. Councillor Guy Senior, transport spokesman for Wandsworth Council, said: “It is a great shame that some greedy and unscrupulous individuals are the cause of so much inconvenience to their neighbours.


“The whole idea behind giving out the free permits is so that genuine visitors, such as friends, relatives and carers, can continue coming while the tennis is on – even though the normal pay-and-display facilities are suspended. Once we became aware that people were selling these permits and that they may have been making numerous copies, we acted to protect our residents. We could not sit by and wait for an invasion of tennis fans and their cars to the area.”


Parking during the tournament is extremely limited, with pay-and-display zones suspended. Visitors can park on the fairways of Wimbledon Park Golf Club, which closes for the tournament, but will have to pay up to £25 a day. The council had first issued yellow A5-sized permits to residents, but a spokesman admitted that they were not fraud-proof. He said: “The passes were a very, very simple piece of paper and you could just photocopy them. There were fears that they were making lots and lots of copies of them.


“We saw a lot on eBay. Some people were asking for about £60, and one person was trying to sell 17 of them. Had we let this go ahead his neighbours would have had a nasty shock.”


He said that the council had not called in the police because it was not sure who was responsible.


Joan Mason, 71, who has lived next to the ground for 34 years, said: “There didn’t used to be any permits at all and it used to be absolutely manic with people coming along and trying to park at the end of your drive. You’d go out to the shops and come back and it was pot luck whether you could park by your house or not.”


The council has issued new, blue permits to locals, along with a letter bearing a warning that “anyone who attempts to sell these permits may face legal action”.


The more traditional touts are also facing a crackdown. Police said yesterday that they would use laws more commonly employed to tackle gangs of youths to disperse those selling tickets illegally outside the ground.


Police have written to between 20 and 30 known touts, and warned off 11 “fixated individuals”, more commonly referred to as stalkers, who are known to be a threat to players. In addition, one junior American player has a restraining order preventing a member of her family attending Wimbledon.



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