Disabled drivers in the North West have asked for more consideration to be given to them when parking.
Mr ‘Stim’ Hughes, who lives in Strabane, has had both lower legs amputated and needs to park as closely to shops as he can to unload his wheelchair.
The 74-year-old was understandably furious this week to be given a parking ticket outside Next at Crescent Link.
“I have a disabled sticker as I have no legs, so I need to park as close as I can,” he told the ‘Journal’, “but outside Next in Crescent Link I was given a ticket. I had my disabled sticker and I think he saw things differently when he realised I was so disabled, but I still have the ticket. He said I was blocking lorries, but I wasn’t at all.”
Mr Hughes was charged £90, £60 if the ticket is paid quickly. “They shouldn’t be allowed to do that. It spoiled the whole day for me and my wife. I’m not paying it,” he added.
Mr Hughes’ is the latest in a long line of drivers who have hit out about parking fines at Lisnagelvin and Crescent Link Retail Parks.
Several months ago, a prominent Derry solicitor advised local drivers punished for imprecise parking in Derry retail parks to ignore the fines doled out by UK Parking Control.
Solicitor Greg McCartney said over the summer that fines issued by privately-owned parking control companies are not enforceable in criminal law.
“My advice is to ignore these tickets totally as it is extremely unlikely the company will take it to court,” he said.
Across the city, parking restrictions in the city centre’s Diamond have also been slammed - by another registered disabled man.
Mr McGroarty from Fr Mulvey Park has been disabled for the past 18 years and needs accessible parking as he can only walk short distances.
This week he was given a parking ticket outside the Sandwich Company in the Diamond – in a place where he had parked countless times before and had always been assured was okay.
“I had asked before and was told on previous occasions that as long as I had my disabled badge on and if there were no other spaces, I could park there,” Mr McGroarty said.
“They’ve denied the appeal and now I have to wait until the end of the month until I get a Notice to Owner before I can try again. Either way, by then the fine will have went up to £90, and they are forcing our arm to pay it.”
The parking fine Mr McGroarty received in the Diamond says he contravened the rule of parking within 15 metres of a junction - which, he has since worked out, means that ALL drivers parking in the Diamond area must be, in fact, contravening the same rule. He demands clarity on the situation.
“I use my car five or six times a day.
“Being given a disabled badge is a right, not a privilege, and you should use it accordingly. I want to know if they have changed the rules because we are even being hassling in side streets now.”
The ‘Journal’ contacted DRD Roads Service who were unable to comment on individual cases without more details of their Penalty Charge Notice.
However, a spokesperson said that, in all cases, if drivers feel their PCN has been unfairly issued, they can submit a written challenge.