91-year-old distraught at parking fine

The disabled badge in the pensioner's car. INPT52-005
The disabled badge in the pensioner's car. INPT52-005

A 91-year-old woman who was given a parking ticket because her disabled badge was upside down, hiding the expiry date, says she is deeply upset by the incident.

The Portadown pensioner, who has been driving for more than 50 years, had parked in a disabled space in West Street last Thursday while she went to do some Christmas shopping in the Christian bookshop.

She returned just 10 minutes later to find a parking ticket on her windscreen, and a note saying her badge was incorrectly displayed.

A number of passers-by stopped to assist the woman, including Annesley Renshaw and his wife Carmel. Mr Renshaw also received a ticket three weeks ago which he is appealing.

He said, “The lady was extremely upset and very confused about what to do next. We were trying to console her.

“She was freezing as well from standing outside. My wife offered to get a girl she knows to write a letter to Roads Service for her and I took a picture of the disabled badge on my phone.

“The badge was turned upside down, that’s all. The words pernickety and jobsworth spring to mind.”

Another man, who stopped to help, advised the pensioner to go to the DUP office.

The woman, who prefers not to be identified, said, “I had parked perfectly but the disabled badge must have blown upside down when I was leaving my niece off. I had taken her out to Rosemount Care Home to see her mother and had just left her back home again and then I went into the town centre.

“I was terribly annoyed when I got back and saw the ticket. At my age, these things annoy you and I haven’t been able to sleep. It has made me afraid to park in the town now. But the people who stopped were very, very helpful and I want to thank them very much.”

The fine is £45 if paid within 14 days or £90 after that.

Robert Smith of the DUP said the fine was “completely outrageous” and has written to Transport NI (formerly Roads Service) to appeal it. He added, “This lady could have been spared this torture in the mouth of Christmas. There seems to be no flexibility whatsoever.

“There needs to be a mechanism whereby a traffic warden can check the registration number and see if the driver is a Blue Badge holder and that all the details are in order. This would avoid unnecessary upset and paperwork.”

A Transport NI spokesperson said, “The Blue Badge was displayed in such a way that the expiry date was obscured and the traffic attendant acted correctly by issuing a Parking Charge Notice (PCN).

“Anyone who considers they have grounds to challenge a PCN is entitled to appeal directly to the department. All evidence, such as providing the department with evidence that a Blue Badge is current, will be fully considered.”