Ooooh Betty! Sidmouth Toastrack gets parking ticket

SHE may be 97 and a hit with tourists, but that didn t stop Sidmouth s iconic Toastrack picking up her first parking ticket this week.

SHE may be 97 and a hit with tourists, but that didn't stop Sidmouth's iconic Toastrack picking up her first parking ticket this week.

The restored Austin char-a-banc named Betty, which started life in 1912, had just "flown through" its MOT on Wednesday, only to spring a water leak and then get slapped with a �70 penalty charge notice for being parked in an Esplanade coach bay.

"She's 97 years old and this is her first parking ticket. I would say I was surprised, but I saw a dust-cart get a ticket here the other day," said co-owner Tom Griffiths.

The Toastrack has been in Tom's family for nearly a century. He was inundated with phone calls as onlookers watched an East Devon District Council parking enforcement officer dish out the ticket, which says Betty was "in a parking place or area not designed for that class of vehicle."

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Tom disagrees however. He said: "A char-a-banc is a historic coach.

"I'd just taken it up to have its MOT, which passed with flying colours, but a water leak meant I had to park it by the sea front on the Esplanade. It's been left there before and is a very popular thing for people to take photos of. So many people want to see it and that's only place it can be viewed safely.

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"I got several phone calls to say it was getting a ticket. I spoke to the enforcement officer, he told me I shouldn't be parking there but I thought I would just get a warning as I'd run out of water."

On the ticket, an EDDC spokesman said: "The vehicle's owner has a right to challenge the notice. If he does so, the council will consider the full circumstances put forward by the appellant. Until such time as a challenge has been received, we cannot comment further."

Tom is the grandson of the Toastrack's original owner Bill Dagworthy. He co-owns Betty, which is still hired for weddings and film work, with local businessman Richard Eley.

Its original chassis was requisitioned during the First World War. The coach body was stored and then put onto a 1927 Austin 20.

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