Disabled woman's fury over parking fine at Hartlepool Marina
A disabled former teacher has said arrangements at Hartlepool Marina car park put parents and other disabled people at ‘a distinct disadvantage’.
Jill Blenkinsopp, from Stockton, visited Hartlepool Marina on March 24 with her brother, but their experience was somewhat spoiled when Jill received a parking fine a couple of days later.
It happened as the retired primary school teacher overstayed without realising after she couldn’t find a parking machine which would accept cash, quickly enough because of her disability.
Jill, 60, says she arrived at the car park at around 12:15pm, but the nearest machine to her didn’t take cash.
After walking for over 10 minutes to look for a machine which accepted cash, Jill, who says she was also being slowed down because of her arthritis in the knees, got a ticket at 12:30pm.
The blue badge holder has said her ticket was valid until 2:30pm – including the first 30 minutes, which are free of charge and the hour and a half stay, which she had paid for.
She made sure she left on time, but a few days later received a letter, saying she had overstayed for 13 minutes and had to pay a fine.
Jill said: “When I first got the letter, it said there was a photograph of my car leaving at 2:31pm. I thought ‘Crikey, I’m going to be charged £100, which is what it was initially, it’s £60 if you pay straight away, for one minute.’
"Then it dawned on me that the time that I’d spent looking around was included in that time as well, which is how I ended up with the 13 minutes over.”
Northwest Parking management, who looks after the car park has said “it is clearly stated” on contractual signs on site that “the 'Duration of stay is calculated by ANPR cameras from the point of entry to point of exit'.”
Jill, who hadn’t been to the Marina before, has pleaded for more understanding over people’s different circumstances and has expressed concern the parking fines could put visitors off.
She said: "We had a lovely time, but I’m very reticent about going back.
“There’s no doubt that I did go over, but I just think they are a bit over zealous and don’t take into account the problems that people have.
"Technically, they’re right, but I just think morally and ethically, it’s not right and I just think they’re going to damage any more people coming to visit, which is a shame.
"I do think people who are disabled or maybe people who have children and are trying to sort them out are at a distinct disadvantage.”
She added that a 15-minute grace period and a better signage would help people navigate the car park easier.
Northwest Parking Management has said there is a 10 minute grace period, in addition to the first 30 minutes of parking being free of charge.
It said there are 32 terms and conditions signs: “All the signs on site have been audited and approved by the British Parking Association (BPA).”
The company added that there are three Pay & Display ticket machines on site all in the same location, along with Pay & Display machines at a lower level to allow wheelchair users easy access.