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Parking ticket for disabled badge holder - can anyone help?

(11 Posts)
Mummypumpkin Mon 16-May-11 10:33:25

I'm hoping someone can give me some advice as I'm fuming about this!

My mother is a disabled blue badge holder. She has (for several years) regularly parked in the same car park, using the disabled bays and displaying her disabled badge and has not had to pay for parking.

On the 13th April she returned to her car to find she had a parking ticket (notice to pay excess charge of £80). She then noticed a sign (not fixed, just a stand alone A-board) at the opening to the car park which had a couple of pieces of A4 paper on it. The lower paper advised that parking charges now applied to disabled badge holders. She had not see this sign on her way in - a. she wasn't looking for it and b. you come off a round about into the carpark so she was looking for other cars and a free space.

She checked the other cars in the disabled bays - not a single one was displaying a sticker, they all had their blue badges on display and nothing else. We've taken this as an indication that none of them saw the A-board either.

The new parking charges were displayed on the ticket machine which my mother had no reason to go to as she has never had to pay for a ticket before. In the bays themselves there was no additional signage, in fact there was nothing in, on, or near the disabled bays to state that anything had changed. I have photographs of the disabled bays. The A-board was in such a position that unless you were looking for it you would have missed it.

On Saturday 30th April, a whole 17 days AFTER getting this parking ticket, my mother received notification from the district council advising that blue badge holders now had to pay for parking! The letter from them clearly states "The changes have been publicised extensively but it is clear that some blue badge holders remain unaware..." Presumably this became clear because so many of them have been caught out by the new parking charges?!

We had no idea at all about the charges so it obviously wasn't publicised enough or in a manner that WE would have seen - and as I said none of the other badge holders seemed to be aware either on the day she got ticketed. There have also been several letters to our local paper from disabled people complaining that they have recieved a ticket.

So, I appealed to the council on her behalf. We cannot understand why she was not informed of the changes prior to them actually taking place and foolishly assumed that they would take this into account and cancel the ticket.

Anyway, they have refused to waive the charge stating that as she did not have a valid ticket they are correct in charging her. They also state that 'no further appeals will be considered'.

I googled furiously last night and found Martin Lewis's info re parking charges and I felt quite hopeful - but no! I contacted the local government ombudsman who have told me that her only options are to pay or to go to court. Are these really her only options? Surely the council have acted unlawfully by not informing people about the charges properly?

My mother is quite distressed and enormously pi**ed off, but at the same time she is furious that they have done this and is willing to fight it if she can.

Can anyone out there help?! Thank you!

P.S. I am also writing to our local paper to complain.

P.P.S I also looking into their 'strenuous publicity' - I found a small paragraph in the local paper on the day the charges took effect - it was 4 sentences long... nothing else.

ChristinedePizan Mon 16-May-11 10:40:06

I found that writing to my local paper complaining about a parking ticket (they suspended a bay that I was parked in at 5pm one day and gave me a ticket the following morning when I hadn't actually left the house) resulted in my ticket being suspended. It would be worth you ringing the paper and seeing if they will do a feature on it - there was a big photo of me, massively pregnant, holding up my ticket with a quote from the council apologising grin

Most councils also won't bother going to court and will drop it before you get there but you do have to take the risk that it will go to court and you'll lose. In your mum's case though, I think there's a lot of evidence on her side that she couldn't reasonably be expected to know that they had changed the rules.

Mummypumpkin Mon 16-May-11 13:07:54

I have emailed the local paper asking if they will do a feature and giving all info.

I have discovered that they advertised the changes to parking charges in a local newsletter that goes out to all households in the county. We live just over the border into another county and wouldn't have got that newsletter!

Anyway, I shall see what the paper says. I'm going to try and get a free half hr appt with a solicitor and see what they say too. Thanks!

kc0rns1lk Mon 16-May-11 13:09:50

what a load of money grabbing twats

Mummypumpkin Mon 16-May-11 13:20:47

I know!

bemybebe Tue 17-May-11 15:26:33

No advise, just a lot of sympathy (and a bump)! My dh is also disabled and we had tickets issued (some correctly on our first trip to London, some incorrectly). Some were cancelled, some were not.

I do not know what to advise as I have never been to courts. What is the worst possible outcome of a court case under these circ? Maybe someone with experience can share them?

I would probably pay up, just to avoid the hassle and worry about further costs, grind my teeth and put it down to experience (as my dh's driver I now also check every time before parking and walking away). That said, wait and see if this thread attracts attention of someone in the know.

Mummypumpkin Wed 18-May-11 19:36:40

I'm not sure what the worst possible outcome is tbh!

We want to take this as far as possible if they won't back down. It's the principle of it... we do always check if we use any other car park but this is the one we/she has used almost every week for years and years... and they must have known that they would catch lots of disabled drivers out.

I can't find much info on worst possible outcomes, will keep googling.

bringinghomethebacon Sat 21-May-11 23:19:55

Worst case scenario possible court costs, not sure how much. But really I would be very surprised if they took this to court. I think the local press is your friend. Shocking behaviour on the part on the local council. Perhaps you could get the local press to appeal for other disabled people who have had tickets in similar circumstances, if there is a lot of you the national press might be interested too. It is a dirty word on mumsnet but this is the sort of story the Daily Mail love!

Collaborate Sun 22-May-11 06:31:08

Also look at/join www.pepipoo.com

Quickly.

You'll get lots of expert advice on there. That has a massive forum, solely dedicated to motoring offences, and a v large parking enforcement section.

Even if the advice is legally you have no case take heart. I recently got a ticket for parking over the edge of the parking bay. Strictly they were in the right to give me a ticket, but when they reviewed the photograph they agreed I shouldn't have to pay a fine, so some LAs will look at things again.

Mummypumpkin Sun 29-May-11 22:01:41

Thank you, will have a look at that site. Story wasn't in this weeks paper although it should have been. There was however a double page spread of letters to the editor complaining about the tickets that had been issued.
I've been advised by a Solicitor that she should just pay as financially even just taking legal advice for an hour will cost more than the excess charge.

tb Sun 05-Jun-11 09:43:45

I have heard - don't know if it's accurate or not, that if you send them a cheque to pay, but 'forget' to sign it, they don't persue it because it costs too much.

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