Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Blood transfusion van parking fine quashed

A parking ticket issued to a Blood Transfusion Service vehicle stationed outside a donation centre has been cancelled after the controversy was featured in the Belfast Telegraph.

The fixed penalty notice was slapped on the van while staff were collecting vital supplies from the public in Downpatrick.

Staff had used the same spot for 15 years without incident.

But the ticket has now been withdrawn after Roads Service made a U-turn and granted “retrospective permission” for the vehicle to park there.

Staff and politicians who had been angered by the incident said the decision to tear up the ticket was “common sense”.

The fine was issued last month after the van overran a one-hour restriction while staff used a hall in Church Avenue, where there is limited parking.

But after appeals from politicians including South Down MLA John McCallister — and the case being highlighted in the Belfast Telegraph — Roads Service officials backed down.

A letter sent to Mr McCallister pointed out that the ticket had been issued correctly.

“The vehicle was parked in a restricted parking place for a time exceeding the maximum permitted period of 60 minutes,” it said. “Signs clearly showing the time restrictions were displayed.”

Paul McElkerney of the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service is relieved the dispute has been resolved.

“Roads Service have been very, very helpful and I want to thank them for that,” he said.

“At the time we were parked illegally, but it was parked there for a very good reason.

“We need the vehicle parked as close to the session as possible because it’s used as a mobile store.”

Mr McCallister said: “I am glad to see common sense prevail. We cannot underestimate the vital importance of this service which relies on the goodwill of the general public to help our most vulnerable citizens in Northern Ireland.”

A spokeswoman for NSL, the body responsible for traffic wardens, said: “While we enforce parking regulations on behalf of Roads Service, they handle any appeals.

“If a ticket is cancelled it is a matter for them.”

A Department for Regional Development spokesman said he could not discuss individual cases, but added: “Everyone who receives a penalty charge notice (PCN) is entitled to appeal if they feel it was unfairly issued.

“If a PCN is cancelled, the Department for Regional Development will write to the appellant and give details as to why the PCN was cancelled.

“The appeals process is scrutinised by audit to ensure any cancellation of a penalty charge notice is justified.”

Background

In Carrickfergus earlier this year a blood transfusion van was issued with a parking ticket outside a donation centre. The ticket was later withdrawn in the midst of public criticism. Last May the Belfast Telegraph revealed 60% of motorists who challenged parking ticket fines had won their cases.

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