An angry driver is prepared to risk going to jail rather than pay a parking fine.
Since being issued with a parking ticket in February, George Duffy, 69, has found himself locked in a seven-month battle with Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) after they rejected his appeal to quash his fine.
George was on his way back from a gym session at The George Centre on Sunday 19 February, when he was hit with the ticket after parking his car on Westgate, as he had done many times before.
George said: “As I was going to be parked for a longer duration than usual, I made a more strenuous effort to locate a sign, but again I could not see one.”
It was only after he had been ticketed, that George found one a fair distance from his car.
He said: “From where my car was parked, this sign was not visible. I took photos and measured the distance, which I found to be a considerable 100ft.”
He also states that the sign is unclear, adding: “While it shows the hours of restriction, it does not make clear the day of the week that the restrictions apply. Sunday is not recognised as a full trading day and it is the responsibility of the ticketing authority to ensure clear signage and full information.”
George challenged the ticket but it was rejected on the grounds that there was also a second sign situated behind George’s car.
Upon investigation, George believes that the second sign poses a major road safety risk.
He said: “The sign cannot be seen from the parking bay as it does not face in the direction of the bay and is on a bend. It is also very low down and faces the road. Anyone wanting to read the sign would need to step out into the road to do so - including the parking warden, who was stood in the road when he took his photos. Given the fact that LCC are part of a road safety partnership, surely standing in a road with a bend behind me, is not safe. The sign was also damaged on the day that I was parked.”
Although the damaged sign has since being replaced, George’s parking ticket remains unresolved.
He added: “Rather than take my safety seriously, LCC have merely registered this as an outstanding debt and have involved bailiffs.”
Despite being issued with a notice of enforcement, Mr Duffy is adamant that he will not pay out of principle. He added: “I have a right to be listened to, a right to be treated with respect and for justice to be seen to be done.”
In a bid to highlight the problems, George met up with Councillors Ray and Linda Wootten in Westgate this week.
Coun Ray Wootten said: “I believe that free short term car parking is vital for the town centre’s economy and I have submitted Mr Duffy’s suggestions for more visible signs to the LCC’s Highways Department. I have also previously suggested that parking in this area could be extended to two hours.”
Coun Linda Wootten added: “The parking wardens know that they can rely on certain areas to target. The parking plates are at a low level with the exception of the loading bay area, which is not distinctive enough.”
The councillor responsible for highways decisions at Lincolnshire County Council, Coun Richard Davies, says it is a “challenge” to balance businesses’ differing opinions.
He said: “We are aware of the concerns about the parking rules on Westgate, and have been working with Grantham Business Club to come up with a new approach for the town centre. The difficulty is that there is no real consensus on the best way forward. Some businesses welcome parking enforcement as it ensures people don’t take advantage of the available spaces and leave their cars there all day, preventing other shoppers from using them. On the other hand, some businesses would prefer a much more relaxed regime. The challenge is finding a balance that the majority of people can live with.”
Parking services manager, Matt Jones, added: “We’re confident that the signage in the area meets the required standard for the restrictions to be enforced. If anyone feels they have been unfairly ticketed, there is an appeal process. Appeals are treated fairly and reviewed thoroughly. If valid grounds for cancellation are presented, the ticket will be rescinded accordingly.”