Disabled driver left feeling blue over £35 parking fine

Pensioner Terry Sweatmore has called for his parking fine to be cancelled after facing delays in getting his new blue badge.

The 73-year-old, from Leek, had realised his disabled permit was three weeks out of date and immediately rang his home authority, Staffordshire County Council, to renew it.

Three days later, he pulled up in a disabled bay in Old Hall Street, Hanley, and left a note on his car to explain he was awaiting the new blue badge. He also included his receipt number as proof.

But Terry returned to find a parking warden from Stoke-on-Trent City Council had slapped a penalty ticket on the vehicle. He said: “I need a blue badge because I have arthritic bones, five collapsing discs and I am waiting for a replacement knee next month.

“To find a ticket on my car was a surprise. I found a parking warden and politely asked what I should do and he told me to go to parking services. I was told there that I had to write in.

“I sent an email to them explaining my situation, expecting for the fine to be rescinded. But no, I received a letter back asking me to pay the £35 fine or it will rise to £70 after 14 days.

“I wrongly paid the £35, not realising that if I wanted to dispute, you shouldn’t pay the fine. I then sent them an email, stating that I wanted to appeal the fine.”

But as Terry has already paid the fine, he has now been told he has forfeited his right to appeal.

The penalty ticket was issued just before Christmas. On February 3 – seven weeks after paying for the renewal – he finally received his new blue badge.

“Seven weeks is shocking. In that time, what are disabled people supposed to do – be in isolation?” he added. “I had three or four hospital appointments in that time. It doesn’t seem to be a very good system.”

Retiree Terry Sweatmore is calling on the city council to rescind a parking fine that handed to him despite him leaving a note for a warden explaining that he had paid for a blue badge renewal.
Terry’s new badge arrived seven weeks after he paid for it

But both local authorities today defended their procedures.

Councillor Alan White, cabinet member for health and care at the county council, said: “We get around 200 calls to our customer contact centre per day just on blue badge renewals, so demand is very high. The time it takes us to process these applications is in line with many other county councils, and our website states that renewals will take between four and 10 weeks.

“We would always advise people to apply well in advance of their existing badge expiring.”

Barry Brockbank, the city council’s assistant director for operations, said: “Our patrols often encounter notes left in cars to explain why the driver has not parked lawfully. However, it is practically impossible for the officer on the ground to verify the authenticity of any note left.

“As such, they have to issue an appropriate penalty notice and rely on the driver’s access to the appeal process to resolve any genuine basis for appeal.

“We can understand Mr Sweatmore’s frustration, but ultimately, it is the holder’s responsibility to display a valid blue badge and to have it renewed before the current one expires. Anyone who doesn’t display a valid badge risks receiving a parking fine and the advice around that is really clear.

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