Sheila Hunt’s daughter said she entered the car’s details as required but was still given a £70 penalty
An NHS worker hit out at a parking firm as he claimed his wife was wrongly fined during a stop to take her elderly mum for a Covid-19 vaccination.
Peter Mowbray believes that Parkingeye wrongly issued a penalty fine in the first place and was further frustrated by an appeal process which he fears is designed to be so difficult as to stop people objecting. The issue stemmed from an appointment on April 30 when Louise Mowbray, Peter’s wife, took her 86-year-old mum Sheila Hunt for to receive her latest vaccination at Moor Park Health & Leisure Centre in Blackpool.
Due to her age and health issues including a recent stroke, Sheila is considered high risk if she were to contract the virus. Peter says the women have no doubt that they entered the registration details and displayed the blue badge – the two requirements to allow them to park in the disabled bays.
Had they parked in the standard bays, they would not even have needed to do this. A penalty notice shows they were in the car park for just 32 minutes but despite believing they had done everything they should they soon received notice of a £70 fine, “discounted” to £40 if paid by May 19.
Peter said: “There’s a similar registration system at our gymnasium and we do that every time so it’s a situation that we’re used to. When we go to the pictures, we enter our car registration too. There’s signs on the way in so you can’t miss them unless you’re not paying attention.”
When contacted by LancsLive, Parkingeye said the details were inputted but that the user did not select the option for parking in a disabled bay. The firm also agreed to cancel the fine as a good will gesture and while Peter was grateful for this, he disagreed with the suggestion of any error on his Louise’s behalf. He said: “My wife is very meticulous, she works in education, she is very good with detail.”
While happy that the fine was quashed, Peter remains frustrated with an appeals process which he fears is designed to discourage people from fighting against fines. He added: “I was writing the letter and I was quite interested to find a few things. We both read it and I asked her to confirm to me what they’re saying.
“Parkingeye will only accept appeals in writing in English, but will accept payments on the phone in various languages. My opinion is they are preying on the vulnerable hoping that they can’t write and appeal for various reasons.”
Peter, who works as senior operational practitioner in anaesthesia at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, he has since heard from other people who have experienced similar problems with parking fines being issued while they took elderly relatives for vaccine appointments. Louise, a teaching assistant and special needs co-ordinator who also cares for her parents, has written to Parkingeye to appeal the decision but has yet to receive a response. The couple have also returned to the health centre to try to get answers and have been told that while those on site are not responsible for the parking system, one manager has attempted to cancel the fine for them.
Peter said: “Parkingeye are yet to respond to me on Twitter either but Louise has written to them. We went to the reception and the lady said it’s nothing to do with them and to go over to the NHS side. So we went over there and queued up for a long time, which after working nights is the last thing you want, but they said it’s nothing to do with them and to go back.
On a third visit to the health centre, a “very helpful and kind” manager named Hannah said she would try to cancel the penalty on their behalf but no confirmation of this has yet been received by the time LancsLive contacted Parkingeye. Peter said it’s not just the potential cost that is a problem, but also the stress and time spent trying to fix it. He said Sheila was left feeling upset and even tried to apologise as she felt there would be no problem if she hadn’t gone for her vaccination.
He added: “I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall. They make it very difficult for people to appeal the fines. They’re not doing what they can to help people when surely they should be.
“I’ve been working nights so I’ve not seen my wife properly the last few days. We finally got to spend some time together on Saturday afternoon and my wife spent it writing an appeal letter to Parkingeye and then we had over an hour discussing it with various people who said ‘it’s not my job, it’s nothing to do with me’.
“They’re making it very difficult for people. We’re lucky that we have reasonably paying jobs but for some people £70 is more they can afford, especially when it’s for something that isn’t correct. All we want from this is for people to be aware of the situation and for Parkingeye to treat people with more respect.”
A spokesperson for Parkingeye said: ““The car park at the Moor Park Health and Leisure Centre in Blackpool is monitored by ANPR camera systems and has 21 prominent and highly-visible signs in the Blue Badge and Drop Off area that give motorists clear guidance on how to use the car park responsibly.
“The motorist parked in the Blue Badge and Drop Off car park however they did not select the Blue Badge holder button when registering their details in the user-friendly terminal within the centre reception area. As a result of this error, they received a Parking Charge Notice, however following a review of the case we have cancelled as a gesture of goodwill.
“Parkingeye operates a BPA (British Parking Association) audited appeals process, which motorists can use to appeal their Parking Charge Notice. If anyone has mitigating circumstances, we would encourage them to highlight this by appealing to Parkingeye. All motorists are also entitled to a further appeal via POPLA, the independent body which reviews all cases.”