FOR THE LAST nine years I have lived without a vehicle. Maybe next year we could buy one but, as these car magazines show, the choices and costs are bewildering!
It’s almost ten years since I moved to Liverpool. When I came to visit for New Year 2002, ‘joy-riders’ stole my car from a cinema car park and drove it down an embankment, crashed into a tree and damaged it beyond repair.
When I rang my family for the traditional New Year greeting, some of them teased me about being ‘robbed by scousers’, which wasn’t helpful as I was with the police until 11.30pm and didn’t make it to a New Years Eve party. Besides, Liverpool is not the worst place in the UK for car crime; I don’t know why it’s got such a bad reputation.
Then I bought my sister’s Ford Fiesta as she upgraded when they had their first child. It was going great, but I did not realise until too late that Mark 1 Fords were so easy to break into (the first car was an Escort of similar age.)
In seven months it was broken into three times. The first time, although the damage was minor, the insurance company were planning to write the car off, but I persuaded them to let me keep it.
The second time was just before I went to Ireland with my dad for a weekend. There was no time to fix it before we went away so I asked my neighbour if I could park it on his drive, thinking it would be safe there.
The morning after we got back to Liverpool I went to get the car on my neighbour’s drive and found it had gone. I later learned it was found abandoned on the main street about half a mile from our place. This time there was no saving it.
At the time I needed a car to get to work on the other side of the Mersey, which is not far but slow by public transport. A colleague had a 20 year old Vauxhall Astra sitting on his drive that he had fixed up. It wasn’t worth much but he sold it to me for £50.
It served me well until the insurance came up for renewal and, because I had claimed three times in one year and moved to a higher risk area, the annual premium was almost 20 times the value of the car!
Around this time I read a list of top 10 easy to steal cars and found that I had owned all of the top three! Another reason why my insurance was so expensive.
So I had to let the car go. I began working in the city centre, as I still do. I can walk into town in 30 minutes or get there by bus in ten.
Most of the time I don’t miss a car, especially the cost. I used to wonder how I could afford to run a car when I had one, then I remembered it was by being in debt!
It means we travel long distances by train (just over two hours to London) or sometimes hire a car. No great hardship, cheaper and kinder to the environment too.
When we are ready to get a car I will be more clued up about security. If I had known how easy the old Fords were to break into, I could have taken more precautions.
Despite that year of vehicle vandalism, I still think Liverpool’s reputation for crime is undeserved and out of proportion. Most if those who repeat the rumour have never been here. In fact it was named earlier this year as the UK’s second safest city based on crime figures.