Disabled schoolkids' bus slapped with £140 parking fine in Nottingham city centre
DISABLED schoolchildren singing carols for charity ended up with a £140 parking fine in Nottingham city centre.
Oak Field School and Sports College pupils spent an hour singing to raise money for Emmanuel House, which helps homeless people, on Monday.
Two specially adapted minibuses – marked "ambulance" on the side – dropped them off in Low Pavement and returned to pick them up at about 2pm.
As the children in wheelchairs were being lifted into the vehicles a warden wrote out tickets for each ambulance.
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Several passers-by were so shocked they stopped to challenge the decision and later e-mailed the Post to express their concern.
When the Post contacted Nottingham City Council it immediately apologised and had the fine revoked.
Head teacher David Stewart, who had intended to appeal against the fine himself, was pleased but said the ticket should never have been issued.
"It's the irony of it," he said.
"The youngsters had all gone carol singing to raise money for Emmanuel House, which the city council has cut funding from, and then they ended up with a £140 fine.
"These children are also wheelchair users so trying to get them anywhere in the city is difficult so it does take time.
"An able-bodied person could be in and out of a bus in a second but we have to lift the wheelchair in and then make sure its clamped, which is what was happening when the ticket was issued and people passing by just couldn't believe it was happening.
"I know people have a job to do and it is a no loading zone but these are not boxes being loaded into a van, these are children getting on a bus and if you were that person I think you would use a bit of judgement."
Mr Stewart said using public transport was not an option for the Bilborough-based school, as there were too many pupils in wheelchairs for a whole class to fit on one bus.
The carol singing session raised a total of £369.55 for Emmanuel House.
Liz Silver, of the Notts Disabled People's Movement, said although the city centre wasn't bad for disabled people this incident showed that more flexibility was needed, adding: "It's completely out of order and I can't understand why anyone would do it.
"It's ludicrous and shows a complete lack of awareness.
"Generally the city isn't bad for accessibility and blue badge holders can apply for access into area where vehicles wouldn't normally be allowed but a school like this should have instant access and it shows there needs to be more flexibility."
Wayne Rogers, who works in Lister Gate, witnessed the tickets being issued and described it as disgraceful.
He added: "I took the images from my place of work as I was so disgusted with the action of this person. I was not the only one and several other passers-by took pictures."
Shelley Mawby also e-mailed the Post.
She said: "A group of people gathered and were as shocked as me. When confronted, the warden said 'I'm just doing my job'. It was unbelievable."
The city council said that parking enforcement officers were entitled to use their own judgement and that as a result of the incident all civil enforcement officers would be reminded about the need to exercise discretion while carrying out their duties.
A spokesman said: "Our civil enforcement officers are expected to, and usually do, exercise discretion and judgement when dealing with situations where there may be a technical breach of regulations but where wider circumstances or sensitivities should be taken into account.
"If in any doubt, they can call managers to ask for advice about how best to proceed. We are sorry this didn't happen on this occasion and for any upset this may have caused."
Have you been the victim of an over-zealous warden? Contact our newsdesk on 0115 905 1967 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org