Tuesday, January 28, 2014
A NURSE is facing court after being lumped with a hefty fine for stopping in a private car park for 10 minutes to ask directions to a children’s birthday party.
Anne Fraser is refusing to pay the penalty incurred at Sidmouth Conservative Club – which at one point stood at £150 – out of principle.
The 67-year-old is being chased by debt collectors who are threatening her with a County Court Judgement and the bailiffs.
She is willing for a judge to decide over a matter that has rumbled on for seven months.
Sympathetic club bosses had even tried to get the charge waived by the firm that runs their car park – but say rules are so strict that even its members have been hit with fines.
A CCTV number-plate recognition system was installed at the Radway venue in August 2012 to deter drivers from abusing its spaces at the expense of genuine users.
Anne’s 10 minute stay from 5.07pm to 5.17pm on July 4 last year could cost her around £250 in fines and court costs. Premier Park, which manages the car park, has passed the matter on to a debt recovery company.
“I did not realise stopping to ask for directions was a crime. I just wanted to find out where a kid’s party was,” said Anne.
“There should be a human element. I’ve gone all my life without anything like this.”
She said her friends had stayed in the car while she spent the time in question asking for directions to the nearby St Theresa’s Hall. The Holmsley care home employee was ‘extremely surprised’ to receive the original £60 penalty - which rose to £150.
Fenny Bridges resident Anne saw an appeal rejected and begrudgingly offered to pay the original amount to end to the matter - but was told she would have to fork out double.
The bill currently stands at £99.
Premier Park says that signs clearly advertise the terms of the car park and that 10 minutes is in excess of a grace period to allow people to turn around.
Bill Muir, a committee member at the club, lamented the ‘sad’ situation but said it cannot influence decisions.
“I tried desperately to get that one cancelled,” he added.
“I felt terrible about it, but the notices are there.”
Bill said that that handing over the management of the car park was necessary to rid it of motorists who were ‘taking liberties’.
“They [Premier Park] are the professionals; if it’s a violation they follow through with it,” he added.
“A few of our members have got tickets.”