Disabled drivers fined... for showing badge back to front
Two elderly women have each been forced to pay £30 fines after displaying their disabled parking permits incorrectly.
Both women, Elizabeth Breen (79), who is being treated for cancer, and Anne Austin (72), who is recovering from surgery on her knee, were hit with the fines after accidentally leaving their blue badges back to front on the dashboards of their cars.
Both incidents came to light after it was revealed that traffic attendants have begun a crackdown on people who misuse disabled parking badges.
Mrs Breen left her car in a disabled parking bay for 20 minutes in Coleraine on Monday while visiting the optician with her husband and daughter.
On returning to the vehicle, they discovered they had been issued with a parking ticket.
Their daughter, Helen McNutt, said: "I ran after the traffic warden and asked her what was wrong and she told me the badge had been displayed the wrong way round, but it doesn't actually say anything on the badge about what way it should be.
"It seems crazy. There should be something on the badge telling you how it should be displayed. Mum is going through chemotherapy at the moment and my dad has diabetes and they both could have done without the stress.
"They are both on a state pension and £30 is a lot of money. They would have to pay £60 if it wasn't paid within two weeks.
"I am always complaining that we can't get a disabled parking space. Mum has liver disease as well and can't walk very far yet you always get the disabled bays being taken up by people in cars who hop out to do their shopping. The whole thing has been very stressful."
Ms Austin, who uses a walking stick, was helping a friend - who has had a stroke - out of her car in Ballycastle town centre when she was issued with a parking ticket for failing to display her blue badge correctly whilst parked in a disabled bay.
"I was only gone for about 10 minutes and when I got back I saw the woman writing the ticket and when I asked her what was wrong she told me the badge was on the wrong way," she said.
"You could see my photograph and ID number on the badge and I said to her it was obvious it was me but I think she was quite nasty to me. No-one ever told me the badge had to be in a certain position.
"I was really very angry as £30 is a lot of money for a pensioner. I am even more annoyed because of the amount of vans that park along the streets in Ballycastle and block the roads up and nothing is done about it."
A Department of Regional Development spokeswoman said the wardens had followed procedures by issuing the tickets.
She said that a blue badge holder must display the badge on the dashboard or facia panel of a vehicle with the front of the badge - the side showing the wheelchair symbol - facing forward so that the details are legible from outside the vehicle.
"In these instances the Penalty Charge Notices were correctly issued to the vehicles as the blue badges were displayed incorrectly," she said, adding that both women are entitled to appeal.