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Blue Badge holder receives parking fine whilst being vaccinated

Lido car park
Lido car park Image credit: mirror.co.uk

A disabled driver was slapped with a £100 parking fine whilst he was having his COVID-19 vaccine at Cheltenham East Community Fire Station last month.

Rex Butland thought blue badge holders didn’t need to pay for parking at the Lido because he has never had to in the past, but his bank account was ‘injected’ by a hefty penalty.

The 75-year-old told Gloucester Live: As a registered disabled person and blue badge holder, my immobility issues necessitated parking as close as possible, however, all roads surrounding the property had yellow cones strategically placed prohibiting any kerbside car parking.

"Including those that would generally be available for blue badge holders.

"I was therefore presented with no option other than to find a suitable space elsewhere, close to the centre but also within safe walking distance, assisted by my walking stick for balance and stability.

"Especially, as it was patently obvious that the roads and pavements were affected by the prevailing damp conditions; exacerbated by potholes, uneven footpaths and kerbs plus the accumulation of fallen leaves.

"These factors created a dangerous situation offering me every likelihood of tripping and / or falling and sustaining injuries with bone breakages and hospitalisation.”

Butland has used the Lido car park in the past and never had to pay, but there was nobody around for him to ask if he needed to use the meter.

He continued: "The nearest available car parking space allocated to blue badge holders, that I was aware of is located in the privately owned Lido car park.

"l have used the swimming pool and car park, allocated for blue badge holders use, regularly for a number of years prior to introduction of the recent lockdown periods.

"I have never had to pay for its use and, as the Lido gates were closed, l was unable to find any Lido staff member to clarify disabled car parking usage and possible charges applicable on this particular Covid-19 induced occasion.

"So I parked my car in the usual blue badge holder’s space then negotiated the tiresome walk to the centre."

Rex Butland

Five days later Butland received a £100 fine from Parking Eye despite having his blue badge on show.

He said: "I have read with interest, other recent accounts of similar 'fines' and car parking charges imposed on persons using the Lido car park for the sole purpose of attending the vaccination centre.

"I also note the dissatisfaction generally expressed regarding Lido management’s and Parking Eye’s decision to initiate and continue with this totally unacceptable but clearly extremely lucrative procedure.

"Without any regard for public opinion, that continues to uphold and encourage national and local community spirit and decency, as has been the situation supporting the NHS and defeating the invisible enemy throughout the pandemic.”

When they were approached for a comment the bosses at Lido said the decided to stop free parking at their stores “pre-COvid-19”.

Julie Sargent, chief executive of Sandford Parks Lido said: "The decision to introduce a parking fee for blue badge holders was made pre-Covid at the point we had to stop using the council run car park manual monitoring process.

"We looked at many companies and systems to take over this vital aspect of our operation and ANPR was the best option for our self-financing charity.

"Unfortunately, it is impossible for this system to automatically differentiate blue badge holders. We are also located next door to the hospital who have been charging for blue badge holders for many years and standard fees are 20 per cent more than ours.

“Since introducing this change we have installed 20 signs which inform the visitor that tariffs apply for blue badge holders.

"I’m really sorry that this man didn't see the signs and as a consequence feels let down by the system.

"Last week we introduced two more signs specifically for blue badge holders and a huge banner as people drive into the car park. We have also employed a team of people to act as the first point of contact for the vaccination centre helping to reduce the stress associated with the experience.

"This meet and greet service comes at considerable cost to ourselves which is currently not subsidised by any Government scheme.

"The response to this provision has been extremely positive as we are able to reduce patient’s anxiety and direct them to where they need to go for their injections. The NHS have thanked us for providing this service."

Sargent added: "For anyone who may have received a fine while attending their vaccination there is an appeals process on the reverse of the letter which informs them they should send their letter of appointment for the vaccination centre to Parking Eye and the appeals team will take this into account.

"Once they have submitted an appeal the charging process is halted at the £60 fine limit if submitted within the timeframe indicated on the initial documentation.

"Please be mindful our team are either physically manning the car park or on furlough due to financial pressures on our organisation."

Lido is an Italian word for "beach".