The Highways Agency has just published a report into the provision of motorway service facilities in the UK, and it’s worth reading if you’ve got a bit of time to spare. I was, however, much amused by these paragraphs in the National Report PDF:
There is no official database of MSAs available therefore it was necessary to perform a desktop study in order to identify the locations of such sites on the Motorway Network.
The desktop study used online aerial mapping sources to identify the locations of service areas on the Motorway Network. The information was then cross-referenced with conventional mapping to establish the names of the MSAs. Thus a comprehensive list of MSAs in England has been produced. As an additional check, information was cross-referenced with unofficial internet based guides to MSAs – motorwayservices.info and motorwayservicesonline.co.uk.
It’s nice to know that we’re providing a useful service to the Highways Agency!
This was one of the comments waiting to be checked this morning:
Why don’t you put a note on your site referring drivers who are being ripped off by Private Parking Companies that they may wish to visit moneysavingexpert.com or pepipoo.com for advice before making their payments. Or are you, as I suspect, less ‘independent’ and less driver/customer orientated than you let on.
Apart from the unjustified paranoia (the fact that we don’t link to your favourite websites doesn’t mean that this site is any less independent), there’s a fair point there. The penalty charges incurred for overstaying your welcome at MSAs are, in many cases, probably unenforceable. So, for those who wojuld like to read more on the subject, then I would recommend this page:
What I wouldn’t recommend, though, is taking advice from unqualified conributors to various website forums. In particular, the other website mentioned above – pepipoo.com – is one that I’d avise you to steer well clear of. Although it does contain a lot of good, accurate advice, there’s also a vast amount of dross posted in the forums by well-meaning but ignorant bar-room lawyers. Unless you’re capable of telling the difference between the good advice and the rubbish, then don’t go there – and if you can tell the difference, then you probably don’t need to!
If you’re looking a for a forum in whch to discus legal matters (including parking, clamping, etc), then my suggestion would be to forget the web and go to Usenet instead. The uk.legal.moderated newsgroup has a high proportion of intelligent, informed contributors and you’re far more ikely to get good advice there than on any web-based forum.