May 21, 2022

A woman was left furious after being slapped with a fine because she parked in a disabled spot while taking her 86-year-old mother for her covid jab. Louise Mowbray had taken her mum Sheila Hunt for her latest vaccination but was furious to find out she had been given a parking fine.

Louise’s husband Peter Mowbray, an NHS worker, believes that the parking company wrongly issued a penalty notice. He was further frustrated by the convoluted appeals process, which he feels is deliberately complex to put people off appealing.

The fine was given after an appointment on April 30 when Louise took Sheila for a vaccine appointment at Moor Park Health and Leisure Centre in Blackpool. Sheila’s age and underlying health concerns, including a recent stroke, meant that she is at a high risk of developing serious symptoms if infected, LancashireLive reports.

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Peter said that neither Louise nor Sheila has any doubt that they entered the car registration number and displayed the blue badge, which were the two requirements to park in the disabled bays. The penalty notice shows that they were in the car park for only 32 minutes.

Despite their short stay, they received a £70 fine. This was “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.”

Louise and Peter Mowbray
Louise and Peter Mowbray

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.”

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